Vyjack Bests Head Heart Hoof in Breeze Toward Wood Memorial
Vyjack, winner of the Grade 3 Gotham on March 2, continued his preparations for the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial on April 6 by breezing five furlongs in 59.07 seconds over Aqueduct's inner track on Friday, accompanied by 7-year-old Head Heart Hoof.
After conceding two lengths to Head Heart Hoof at the start, Vyjack drew even with his stablemate at the five sixteenths, was a half-length in front at the wire, and pulled well clear in the gallop out.
Head Heart Hoof, winner of the Grade 3 Toboggan and third in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap, was clocked in 59.72.
“Last time was easy [four furlongs in 51.23 on March 15],” said Gustavo Rodriguez, who was aboard for Friday's workout. “It was time for him to do something. I wanted him to do something, but not crazy. He was chasing the other one. Turning for home, I asked him a little bit, and he responded nice. He galloped out nice. Beautiful. Strong. He's worked with other horses, and nobody can keep up with him.”
Vyjack is unbeaten in four starts, all at Aqueduct. After contesting the pace and wearing down Siete de Oros to win the Grade 2 Jerome by a head in January, the gelded son of Into Mischief rallied from 10th to win the Gotham by 2 ¼ widening lengths.
Owner David Wilkenfeld of Pick Six Racing noted Vyjack's ongoing mental development.
“He seemed very relaxed today in the work and before the work,” said Wilkenfeld. “I was watching him on the track. He kind of sat outside the other horse, and when Gustavo set him down he was very relaxed. Usually after the works he kind of waits on the other horse, but it looks like he kind of kept going.”
Vyjack's competition in the Wood is expected to include Verrazano, who is 3-for-3, including an easy win in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby. Wilkenfeld, however, is not conceding the Wood Memorial to either undefeated sophomore.
“[Grade 2 Remsen runner-up] Normandy Invasion is also a very nice horse,” said Wilkenfeld. “He needs to win a big race just to get into the Derby, so he's going to be fully cranked and ready to go. There are some other tough horses, also. The McLaughlin horse who ran against us in the Gotham [Elnaawi, third by 2 ¾ lengths] is also a nice horse.”
Gustavo Rodriguez said Vyjack likely will breeze again in approximately one week.