With his victory Saturday in the Gotham Stakes, Vyjack presumably acquired enough points to put himself in the Kentucky Derby -- 50 should certainly suffice. But, more immediately, he earned enough respect to put himself in the ESPN.com Top 10.
And his performance was even better than it might first appear. In his three previous victories, Vyjack had relied on his natural speed to race close to the early lead, but jockey Joel Rosario put the old cobra clutch on the speed Saturday and dragged Vyjack into unfamiliar surroundings, back to 10th, or next-to-last, for the opening quarter-mile. And not only did the winner employ a new running style, but he was carried wide in the first turn and raced five-wide in the second turn before charging through his fourth quarter-mile in about 23.80 seconds and then winning by more than two lengths in a solid clocking (1:44.09, compared to Summer Applause's 1:44.10 in the Top Flight Stakes). Yes, it was an impressive effort, good enough to land Vyjack at No. 8 in this week's poll.
Meanwhile, Overanalyze ran more like Oviposit. The 8-5 Gotham favorite had a reasonably good trip but still could finish no better than fifth, about four lengths behind the winner. So he drops out altogether, from No. 10 in last week's ESPN.com poll.
The races become more significant and the points more dear as the road to the Triple Crown approaches Kentucky. Three of the top 10 will race Saturday: Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby and Flashback and Goldencents in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita.
Orb has moved forward steadily and remarkably this winter, his improvement culminating with his victory in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, which vaulted him to the top of the poll. The Florida Derby on March 30 would seem to be the logical next step.
In preparation for his stakes debut in Saturday's Tampa Bay Derby, Verrazano worked an easy half-mile Sunday at Palm Meadows. Sensational while winning his two races by a total of 24 lengths, he could face his first serious challenge at Tampa Bay, where he'll meet stakes winners Falling Sky and Dynamic Sky.
On Saturday, he had his second serious workout, five-eighths of a mile in 1:01.60, since winning the Holy Bull Stakes. The workout equaled the fastest of the morning at Calder for the distance. Unbeaten this year, Itsmyluckyday also won the Gulfstream Park Derby and is aimed at the Florida Derby on March 30.
In preparation for the San Felipe, and in company with Den's Legacy, Flashback worked five-eighths of a mile Sunday at Santa Anita in 59.31 seconds, which was the bullet. After an anxious moment when a filly that happened to be working at the same time reportedly drifted inward, making things momentarily tight, the handsome gray colt galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.20.
After he won the Withers Stakes in New York, he traveled to Florida. On Sunday at Palm Meadows, he worked an easy half-mile (49.85). And he could travel again for his next start, probably to New Orleans, for the Louisiana Derby on March 30.
6. Super Ninety Nine
He appears to be thriving, having won his two most recent races by a total of 14½ lengths. After his romp in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, he returned to California, where on Monday he worked a bullet half-mile in 46.40 seconds. He's to return to Hot Springs, Ark., for the next week's Rebel Stakes.
7. Shanghai Bobby
Shanghai Bobby worked five-eighths of a mile Sunday in 1:00.90. The champion juvenile of 2012 lost for the first time in his career when placing second in the Holy Bull Stakes. It was a game effort and a promising start to his season, but he'll need to step forward March 30 in the Florida Derby.
He showed much more than mere talent with his victory Saturday in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. He demonstrated uncommon versatility, as well as a determination to overcome trouble. He'll take an unbeaten record into the Wood Memorial on April 6.
Goldencents continues to string together bullets as if they're pearls, the latest being Saturday's 1:11.60 for six furlongs at Santa Anita. That's his seventh consecutive bullet workout, all at six furlongs and, more important, all at Santa Anita, where he'll take on Flashback in Saturday's San Felipe.
10. Normandy Invasion
Everything went wrong for him when he finished fifth in the Risen Star Stakes. Not only did he stumble and race wide, but he appeared to drift, away from a right-handed whip, in the Fair Grounds stretch. He's expected to get a new jockey for the Wood Memorial on April 6.
Also receiving votes: Code West (12), Uncaptured (10), Mac The Man (9), Oxbow (6), Tiz The Truth (6), Rydilluc (6), Overanalyze (3), Power Broker (3), Dynamic Sky (3), General Election (2), Titletown Five (2), Capo Bastone (2), Shakin It Up (2), Transparent (1), Ive Struck A Nerve (1), Treasury Bill (1).