Monday, May 02, 2022

Gun Runner will have a pair of chances to add to his ever-growing stallion reputation when Cyberknife and Taiba go postward in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs.

The potentially huge weekend for Gun Runner ends with the Derby, but he also has the undefeated champion filly of 2021, Echo Zulu, in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (G1).

Both 3-year-old colts come into the Run for the Roses off Grade 1 victories, Cyberknife in the Arkansas Derby and Taiba the Santa Anita Derby.

Cyberknife, trained by Brad Cox for Gold Square LLC, drew post 16 and will be ridden by Florent Geroux. Cyberknife began his career last September at Churchill Downs, and has thrived upon returning this spring, working a bullet six furlongs in 1:11 1/5 on April 30.

The chestnut colt has earned $860,000 and sold for $400,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Select Yearling sale. He was bred in Kentucky by Ken and Sarah Ramsey.

Taiba, in post 12 with jockey Mike Smith riding for trainer Tim Yakteen, has but two starts to his name, but has posted a pair of triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in both his maiden win and the Santa Anita Derby. In the latter, he ran down the much more experienced Messier, winning by 2 ¼-lengths. Taiba also recently recorded a bullet six-furlong workout, on April 28 at Santa Anita.

Taiba is Gun Runner’s most expensive offspring to date to sell at auction, bringing $1.7 million from owner Amr Zedan at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton March Sale. He was bred in Kentucky by Bruce Ryan.

The Derby is the 12th race on Saturday with a post time of 6:57 p.m. ET.

For Friday’s Oaks, Echo Zulu drew post 7 in the field of 14 3-year-old fillies. She’ll be ridden by Joel Rosario, who was aboard for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), her only start of 2022.

Undefeated in five outings, Echo Zulu has earned $1,720,000 for owners L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds. That duo purchased the bay filly for $300,000 out of the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling sale.

“She trains like a horse that expects to win and that’s a wonderful thing,” said trainer Steve Asmussen after the draw. “She got tired in her first race off the bench (at Fair Grounds) but the fast fillies are inside of her and we are pleased to draw on the outside of them.”

The Oaks is the 11th race on Friday with a post time of 5:51 p.m. ET.