Palm Beach winner Rydilluc completed his major preparation for next Saturday's Grade 1 Blue Grass by working seven furlongs in 1:28 3/5 on a cool, clear morning at Keeneland. Click here for work video.
With jockey Edgar Prado up, Rydilluc worked on his own and recorded fractions of :12 4/5, :25 4/5, :38 3/5, :51, 1:03 1/5 and 1:15 3/5. He galloped out a mile in 1:43 2/5.
"He handled the track good," Prado said of Rydilluc, who never has raced on Polytrack but is undefeated in three starts on grass. "The trainer (Gary Contessa) is happy, I'm happy and the horse is happy and that is the most important thing."
"He got a taste of two turns on the Polytrack," Contessa noted. "That's what you want to see: a nice, steady work. You look at his works and you won't see any half-miles in 46 (seconds)."
Contessa bought Rydilluc last May at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic two-year-old sale for $150,000. Leonard Green is the managing partner of the ownership group that includes Sean Shay, who was responsible naming the colt.
"In my partnerships, everybody has a job and it was Sean's job to name the horse," Contessa said. "So, he named him after three family members, Ryan, Dillon and Luke...so it is Ry-Dill-Luke."
Contessa, who saddled 1991 Ashland winner Do It With Style, liked everything about the son of Medaglia d'Oro.
"I liked his stride, the way he moved," Contessa explained. "I look for horses that will go two turns and I like to see horses that gallop out strong."
Rydilluc has justified Contessa's confidence in him by reeling off three consecutive grass victories by a combined 13 3/4 lengths. The only blemish on Rydilluc's record is a fifth-place finish in his debut on dirt.
Contessa does not think dirt will be a concern should Rydilluc move on to Churchill Downs for the 139th Kentucky Derby on May 4.
"Let's just say he can be very difficult in the paddock," Contessa said. "He is very cool on the track, but he caught us off guard that day and basically left his race in the paddock (in his debut)."
Paddock schooling will be on the daily agenda this coming week for Rydilluc.
"He is going to school every day," Contessa remarked. "We took him in there at noon (on Friday) and he was 90 percent better than he has ever been. Running where he is stabled might be a deal-maker for him, because in Florida we'd have to put him on a van to go to Gulfstream from Palm Meadows."
Rydilluc has accumulated no points toward the Kentucky Derby based on the new qualifying system and likely would need a top-two finish in the Blue Grass, which carries 100 points to the winner and 40 to the runner-up, to advance on to Louisville.
Should Rydilluc earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate, Contessa said the colt would be an early arrival in Louisville and become well acquainted with the Churchill Downs paddock as well.
Rydilluc wasn't the only Blue Grass hopeful taking to the track Saturday at Keeneland.
Trainer Dale Romans once again shipped a contender from his Churchill Downs base to Keeneland to work a week before the Blue Grass, the same thing he did last year with Dullahan, who won the race by 1 1/4 lengths.
Romans' candidate for the 2013 Blue Grass is Siena Farms LLC homebred Dewey Square, a Bernardini colt who was third behind fellow Blue Grass hopeful Uncaptured in last year's Kentucky Jockey Club and is coming off a fifth behind Rydilluc in the Palm Beach.
"If something works, we stick with it," Romans, who received the 2012 Eclipse Award as outstanding trainer, stated about the schedule.
With Tammy Fox aboard, Dewey Square worked five furlongs in 1:03. Clockers caught the colt's first three furlongs in :38 1/5 with a six-furlong gallop-out time of 1:16.
"He got stronger as he got used to what he was running on, and he galloped out really strong," Romans said. "It looked like he figured it out."
Wes Welker's Undrafted, who won his career debut at Keeneland a year ago, was yet another candidate for the Blue Grass to work at Keeneland on Saturday.
With Azael De Leon aboard, Undrafted clocked five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 in company with the three-year-old filly Sunset Time.
"He looked good. He broke off about 10 lengths behind that filly and closed and met her there at the eighth-pole and cruised on to the wire," said trainer Wesley Ward, who was the leading trainer during Keeneland's spring and fall meets last year.
A gelding by Purim, Undrafted was third in the Willard L. Proctor Memorial last June at Hollywood Park before taking his final start of the season, an allowance race on the turf at Gulfstream Park. This year at Gulfstream, he's turned in thirds in the Gulfstream Park Derby, Hutcheson and Swale.
"The question is how far he's going to go, especially with the contention being so deep in a race like that," Ward said about Undrafted's chances in the Blue Grass. "But you kinda have to take a shot. I think this is the best time to do it."
In other Blue Grass news, trainer Ken McPeek said he would wait a day to work Charles Fipke's Java's War at Gulfstream Park.
"The track was muddy down there this morning, so we will try Sunday," McPeek said of the War Pass colt.
Java's War was last seen finishing second in the Tampa Bay Derby behind Verranzano in his seasonal debut. The bay closed out his juvenile campaign with a sixth-placing in the Kentucky Jockey Club, with that following a close third in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.
According to McPeek, Julien Leparoux has the call on Java's War in the Blue Grass.
Frank Irvin's Fear the Kitten, fifth in the Spiral at Turfway Park on March 23 in his most recent start, worked five furlongs in 1:02 1/5 over a fast track at the Trackside Training Center in Louisville for trainer Mike Maker. The bay son of Kitten's Joy was third in the LeComte and a well-beaten second in the Southwest prior to the Spiral.
Working at Palm Meadows on Saturday morning was Marylou Whitney's Eton Blue, who covered a half-mile in :48 1/5 on the fast track for trainer Nick Zito. The Giant's Causeway colt ran fifth in the Tampa Bay Derby in his stakes bow.