Cyberknife hits home in Haskell in record time

For nearly 50 years, Al Gold has traveled from his home in New Jersey to Monmouth Park countless times.

He’s seen more editions of the TVG.com Haskell Stakes (G1) in his 66 years on this earth than he can remember.

So when he bought his first horse about 15 years ago, he had wild dreams of winning the Haskell, but realised, after all his years of playing, that dreams and reality never converge. not often.

Yet they did on July 23.

Cyberknife the son of gun runner named for a surgical tool that rid Gold’s body of prostate cancer, wrote a new chapter in Gold’s relationship with Monmouth Park as he made strong progress along the rail in the stretch and scored a victory in lead in record time of 1:46.24 for 1 1/8 miles above Bob Baffert formation Taiba in the $1,017,500 Haskell for 3-year-olds on the track, Gold calls his home away from home.

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“I have a lot of great memories here and he’s the best horse I’ve ever had. This is his second Year 1,” said Gold, who races under the Gold Square banner and now lives in Florida and in Saratoga Springs, NY “It’s a special feeling. There are no words to describe it.”

With 3-5 favorites Jack Christopher weakening in the final yard and finishing third, Haskell’s back-to-back wins for trainer Brad Cox and jockey Florent Geroux (who won a year ago by disqualification with Mandaloon ), added a little more confusion to a 3-year-old split that has an 80-1 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) winner in the 80-1 Rich Strike winner of the Preakness Stakes (G1) in Early voting who will run July 30 in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2), and a Belmont Stakes winner presented by NYRA Bets (G1) in Mo Donegal who is sidelined and will miss the Breeders’ Cup due to bone bruises.

Now you can add Cyberknife to this mix of title contenders. Bred by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and mare Flower Alley Awesome Flower, he won the Arkansas Derby (G1) to give Gold his first Grade 1 victory as an owner. The next stop is a van ride to Saratoga Racetrackwhere the chestnut colt is set to race in the Runhappy Travers Stakes (G1) on August 27, which promises to have a say in who will be crowned 3-year-old male champion.

“He’s got a really good racing record, and if he keeps moving forward he’ll be a 3-year-old Championship contender,” Cox said of a 3-year-old who was 18th in the Derby of the Kentucky but won the Matt Winn Stakes (G3) in his last start. “He has work to do, but hopefully he will be a horse that has his name in the hat at the end of the year. I think he can get the mile and a quarter (the Travers distance). “

The late summer and fall classics will hold special meaning for Cyberknife as he prepares to collect a $1 million bonus from BetMakers if he can add a win to the Travers and at the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) from November 5 to Keeneland. The winner of 5 out of 9 starts with earnings of $1,596,520, secured a free spot in the Classic until Saturday’s win in the BC Win and You’re In stakes.

Jack Christopher and his coach Chad Brown were the center of attention as all eight starters entered the gate. Brown had already matched Todd Pletcher’s feat on the 2016 Haskell card with five wins and bid for a sixth and a sweep of Monmouth’s five graded stakes with an unbeaten 3-5 shot.

Owned by Jim Bakke, Gerald Isbister, Peter Brant and Coolmore Stud, Jack Christopher has the pedigree of a miler as a son of Munnings and the two-time Grade 1 winner was making his debut in two rounds against three other top-tier winners.

After half a mile in :46.96, Jack Christopher was second by a length behind 56-1 shooting Benevengo on a scorched race track that saw Spend a Buck’s 37-year-old record shattered by Very motivated four races earlier when he won the Monmouth Cup Stakes (G3) in 1:46.53 four races earlier.

Halfway through the turn, after six furlongs in 1:09.93, Jack Christopher and Jose Ortiz made their move and took a narrow lead over Howling time at the quarter pole. Yet behind them Cyberknife and Zedan Racing Stables Runhappy Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Taiba was in full swing.

As Howling Wolf fell back to fourth, Cyberknife moved alongside Jack Christopher on the inside and Taiba on the outside halfway through. As the favorite couldn’t keep pace in the final quarter of an hour, the battle came down to Cyberknife and Taiba straining to reach the wire first, with Cyberknife ($17.60) securing the Go-ahead as a 7-1 fourth choice.

“I had great confidence in this horse,” said Geroux. “I had a lot of horse under me. He’s got a turn of foot like a turf horse on dirt.”

Taiba, ridden by Mike Smith, made his first start since finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby and reunited with Baffert, who returned to his stable earlier this month after serving a 90-day suspension for violation drugs and disqualification of Medina Spirit in 2021. Derby kentucky.

“He’s still learning,” Smith said of the Gun Runner son, who made his fourth career start on Saturday. “I had him inside and couldn’t run him there for nothing, so I had to throw him outside and he had a great run. I thought I was going to win. “

If Taiba goes through, he will need a different trainer because Baffert is suspended from racing at New York Racing Association tracks until January.

“He put in a brave effort for sure,” said assistant trainer Jim Barnes, who saddled Taiba.

For Jack Christopher, who was two lengths behind Taiba and had never run beyond a mile until Saturday, the seven-stay H. Allen Jerkens (G1) August 27 memorial in Saratoga looms as the next target.

“I felt very, very good turning for home,” Brown said after his 3-year-old son’s first loss in five starts. “I thought it was a nice trip, but at the end of the day I thought he had established fair fractions. It’s pretty simple, we have to reduce it. Hats off to the winner. He had the look like a real threat all the way.”

On a day when a crowd of 22,138 bet $1,303,642 on the track, with an all-source handle of $19,896,954, it was a great day for Monmouth and a damn good one for Brown, despite the Haskell’s setback. His five wins, including one Grade 1, were in races with a combined purse of $1,660,000.

“It was a great day and Monmouth should be applauded for putting on such a great day of racing,” Brown said. “We came here with some of our best horses because they offered great prizes in races that made sense at this time of year. The management couldn’t have been more accommodating. I’m really happy to coming home to where it started for me. I spent my coaching license here at Monmouth after the 2007 Breeders’ Cup.”

Video: TVG.com Haskell S. (G1)

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