ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 8, 2016)–Far back off a scintillating early pace, 6-year-old gelding Vyjack kept to his task the final sixteenth of a mile and wore down well-fancied Om and heavily favored stablemate, Obviously, to take Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 City of Hope Mile by a half length in a course record 1:31.69. Trained by Phil D’Amato and ridden by Flavien Prat, Vyjack will be pointed to either the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 4, or the Breeders’ Cup Mile (turf), on Nov. 5.
With longshots Frank Conversation and St. Joe Bay both gunning from their inside post positions, Om, ridden by Gary Stevens, saved ground into the first turn as Obviously, breaking from post eight, joined and then overtook the two speed merchants in the run down the backside. From there, Obviously, who was ridden for the first time by Tyler Baze, held the advantage until the winner and Om overtook him 50 yards from the wire.
“Vyjack is so professional,” said D’Amato. “In many ways, he reminds me of Obviously. He has a different style of running but both are very professional and you can put them where they want to run. I have to give Flavien a lot of credit. He’s breezed him since he’s been here in California (he had been based in the east with trainer Bill Mott) and I think that’s helped a lot.
“I thought the fractions were suicidal. Obviously was a victim of circumstances and there were two horses that maybe didn’t belong in here and our guy still fought valiantly…The original plan was the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile for Vyjack, but with the way he ran today, we’ll see. The turf milers here have such a tremendous turn of foot and Vyjack showed that today and it set up for him. I don’t take anything away from Obviously today. I don’t think they’ll go (that fast) in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, so between the Mile and the Turf Sprint, I think one of those spots will be right up his alley.”
Off at 4-1 in a field of 10 three year olds and up, Vyjack paid $10.60, $4.80 and $2.80. Owned by Pick Six Racing, the Kentucky-bred by Into Mischief got his eighth win from 27 starts and with the winner’s share of $120,000, he increased his earnings to $1,321,900.
“With the fast pace I knew I would be farther back but it was fast enough and we fought,” said Prat. “There were some good horses in here and to catch those types of horses, you’ve to be good and you’ve got to be brave. I knew I was able to put up a fight, but when you’re racing horses that are good, you never know for sure if you’ll beat them.”
Ridden by Gary Stevens, Om, who overtook St. Joe Bay midway around the far turn and eventually outran the favorite by a half length, was off at 5-2 and paid $4.40 and $2.40.
“We ran big,” said Stevens. “We kinda got double-teamed there but he ran a good race.”
Idle since cruising to victory in a Grade III mile turf stakes on June 18 at Belmont Park, Obviously, who was 5 ¼ lengths clear of the fourth horse, was off at even money under Tyler Baze and paid $2.10 to show.
Fractions on the race were 21.40, 43.97, 1:07.86 and 1:19.72.
The City of Hope Mile was the eighth race on a 10-race card Saturday at Santa Anita.
First post time on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m., with admission gates opening at 10:30 a.m.