Vyjack, third behind Verrazano and Normandy Invasion in the Wood Memorial (gr. I) last time out, led a small group of workers for the upcoming Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on the morning of April 26 at Churchill Downs. Also on the tab were Falling Sky and Golden Soul.
The 3-year-old Into Mischief gelding went five furlongs under trainer Rudy Rodriguez in 1:00 2/5, caught by Churchill clockers in splits of :12 1/5, :24 2/5, :36, :48, and out in 1:14. The move was third-fastest of 32 at the distance on the day.
"If I'm not happy now, then I'm never gonna be happy," Rodriguez said of the effort of Pick Six Racing's Vyjack in preparation for the May 4 Derby. "He worked very, very good—without company, did everything within himself. I really didn't get into him. He did everything very good and is very alert."
Vyjack has been training at Churchill since the morning of April 22. He arrived after a brief stay at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., where he recovered from a slight lung infection detected after the April 6 Wood. He breezed there under Rodriguez going an easy half in :51 3/5 April 19.
The big bay was unbeaten until his Wood loss with a string of four victories including the Gotham (gr. III), Jerome (gr. II), and Traskwood stakes. He ranks eighth on the list of starters to make the Derby field; jockey Garrett Gomez has the call.
Falling Sky turned in his pre-race preparations for trainer John Terranova II under exercise rider Cassie Garcea with a bullet move, going five furlongs in :59 3/5. The sophomore Lion Heart colt started a length back of two workmates and finished half a length in front after making an outside move, ticking off splits of :12 2/5, :23 4/5, :35 2/5, and :47 1/5, and out six furlongs in 1:13 with an extended seven-furlong gallop-out in 1:28.
"He worked the way we wanted him to. We're just trying to keep him happy. We just wanted him to settle a bit and he showed he can. He settled and did his thing at the eighth-pole," assistant trainer Reynaldo Abreu said. "We weren't looking for him to open up and crush those other horses. We wanted them to finish together and for him to settle."
Abreu, who reported that Terranova was scheduled to arrive in Louisville the afternoon of April 26, is encouraged by Falling Sky's preparation at Churchill.
"He's going over this track better than the other tracks where I've seen him," Abreu said. "He skips right over the track."
Racing for Newtown Anner Stud, James Covello, and Joseph Bulger, Falling Sky was fourth in the April 13 Arkansas Derby (gr. I) in his most recent start. He was third in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) and won the Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) earlier in the season. He will be ridden in the Derby by Luis Saez.
Golden Soul, ranked number 23 for the 20-horse field, went five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 for trainer Dallas Stewart. Exercise rider Emerson Chavez was in the irons on the 3-year-old son of Perfect Soul , who recorded splits of :12 1/5, :24 2/5, :36, :48, and out in 1:14 2/5.
"We'll be ready if we have the opportunity," Stewart said of the chestnut colt owned by Charles Fipke.
Golden Soul was fourth in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) March 30 and will be ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. if he makes the field in the Run for the Roses. Fipke also has Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner Java's War , fourth on the Derby points list, in training with Ken McPeek.