Saturday, April 02, 2022

Gun Runner may likely have one of the favorites in the Kentucky Derby (G1) starting gate after Cyberknife stamped his ticket to the Run for the Roses with a dynamic victory in Saturday’s $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park.

Cyberknife was making just his second stakes start after a troubled trip while wearing blinkers in the Lecomte S. (G3). Breaking from post 8 of nine on Saturday, the chestnut was four-wide going into the first turn before backing off the settle in fourth. Kavod led the way through a half-mile in :46.54, with Cyberknife under a hold about three lengths off the lead.

At the five furlong mark, jockey Florent Geroux made what turned out to be the winning move, threading a narrow opening between Kavod and Chasing Time to challenge for the lead. Cyberknife took the lead with three furlongs to go, with Secret Oath his biggest challenger entering the stretch. Cyberknife responded and drew clear to win by 2 ¾-lengths over a late-closing Barber Road in 1:50.42 on a fast track.

“Great effort with some high hopes for him,” Geroux said. “We always thought he was very talented. Looks like he finally put it together and he’s probably not even 100%, as he was zig-zagging down the lane. I’m hoping he’s going to be a little straighter on the first Saturday in May. But, a very talented horse.”

Cyberknife has now earned $860,000 and is 3-2-0 in six starts for Gold Square LLC, who purchased the colt for $400,000 out of the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Select Yearlings sale.

With Cyberknife set for the Derby, Gun Runner could also have the favorite for the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (G1) with Echo Zulu, last year’s champion 2-year-old filly who returned recently with a game win in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G1). Gun Runner’s second crop already has a remarkable 13 stakes horses and more than $2.4 million in progeny earnings.

Pedigree Notes from the TDN

Cyberknife is yet another feather in the cap for Gun Runner, who has now sired 10 stakes winners and six graded scorers (now three at Grade I level) from his first crop. Hailing from the female family of G1 Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed, GSW Witty (Distorted Humor) and Grade I winner and Darley Japan sire American Patriot, Cyberknife is out of six-time stakes-winning mare Awesome Flower and was bred in Kentucky by Ken and Sarah Ramsey.