Trainer Rodriguez Guides Vyjack at Churchill

Trainer Rodriguez Guides Vyjack at Churchill
Photo: Reed Palmer Photography, Churchill Downs
Trainer Rudy Rodriguez gallops Vyjack at Churchill Downs on April 23.

Trainer Rudy Rodriguez put his skills as a former rider to use Tuesday, April 23, riding grade II winner Vyjack on the Churchill Downs main track in preparation for the May 4 Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

Pick Six Racing's Vyjack, who won the Jerome (gr. II) and Gotham (gr. III) stakes this year at Aqueduct Racetrack, jogged to the finish line and then galloped 1 1/2 miles under Rodriguez after the renovation break. Rodriguez said Vyjack resolved some curiosity and then went to work.

"He looked around a little bit at first but then settled in and went about his business," Rodriguez said. "He was very good this morning."

The Into Mischief   gelding had jogged early the morning of April 22 for his first training at Churchill Downs and Rodriguez said the Tuesday activity would be the norm.

"This is the same routine we have at home," Rodriguez said. "When I worked for (the late Racing Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel), he had a routine and schedule that worked and stuck to it."

Rodriguez, who will be saddling his first Kentucky Derby starter, said Vyjack would have paddock and gate schooling leading up to the race.

In other Derby news on Tuesday:

* Before the renovation break, Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) winner Verrazano   and Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Revolutionary returned to the track after walking the shedrow of trainer Todd Pletcher's barn Monday. Verrazano jogged under Humberto Zamora and Revolutionary jogged under Nick Bush.

Following the renovation break during the 15-minute period reserved for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) contenders, Arkansas Derby (gr. I) winner Overanalyze   and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) runner-up Palace Malice galloped around the Churchill Downs oval. Overanalyze was guided by regular exercise rider Obed Perez and Palace Malice was under Jake Nelson.  

Verrazano, Revolutionary, Overanalyze, and Palace Malice are scheduled to work Sunday, April 28. Charming Kitten, who is being considered for the Derby and with Tuesday's departure of Super Ninety Nine and Den's Legacy from Derby consideration should have enough points to make the field of 20, also is scheduled to breeze Sunday.

* Newtown Anner Stud, James Covello, and Joseph Bulger's Falling Sky waited patiently at the gap during the morning renovation break before galloping 1 3/8 miles under exercise rider Cassie Garcea.

"He likes to look at all the people," Garcea said of the colt's quiet disposition. Trained by John Terranova, Falling Sky is scheduled to work Saturday, April 27, or Sunday.

 * Louisiana Derby runner-up Mylute visited the paddock and jogged around the Churchill Downs track Tuesday under regular exercise rider Maurice Sanchez. According to trainer Tom Amoss, Mylute is scheduled to have his final work in advance of the Derby April 28.

* Fox Hill Farms' Normandy Invasion galloped 1 1/2 miles under exercise rider Javier Herrera after the renovation break. Trainer Chad Brown, who has yet to saddle a Kentucky Derby starter, liked what he saw of Normandy Invasion's first day back at the track after working a half-mile the morning of April 21.

"Normally, after a work, I walk a day and then jog," Brown said. "But right now, he is too strong."

* Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable's Orb   walked the shedrow at Barn 43 and is scheduled to return to the track April 24, trainer Shug McGaughey said.

"This is familiar territory," McGaughey said of Barn 43, which served as his regular barn when he started training more than 30 years ago. "All the horses I trained here came out of this barn."

The roster of McGaughey horses that called Barn 43 home includes 1993 Kentucky Oaks winner Dispute, 1988 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic winner Personal Ensign, and fellow Hall of Famer Easy Goer.

In addition to Orb, McGaughey has a couple other stable stars eyeing major victories on Derby Day: Phipps Stable's Point of Entry   in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. I) and Emory Hamilton's Hungry Island in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (gr. II).

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