Cyberknife Turns in Strong Work for Pegasus World Cup (G1)
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile runner-up goes 5 furlongs in 1:00
Prepares for ‘Last Run’ Jan. 28
Proxy Seeks Second Stakes - and Second G1 - in Pegasus
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Trainer Brad Cox is tightening the screws with Gold Square LLC’s Cyberknife in preparation for concluding the 4-year-old colt’s racing career in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by Baccarat at Gulfstream Park.
Second in a photo finish in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) in his previous start, Cyberknife is the anticipated favorite for the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus for 4-year-olds and up on Jan. 28. Gulfstream’s showcase program that day includes the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1), a 1 1/8-mile stakes for older horses, and the $500,000 Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G3), a 1 1/16-mile stakes for older fillies and mares on turf.
The 4-year-old Cyberknife was recorded working five-eighths of a mile in a sparkling minute flat in company with the talented mare Astute Sunday morning at the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans. Fair Grounds clocker Billy Pettingill caught Cyberknife galloping out six furlongs in in a powerful 1:11.74 under exercise rider Edvin Vargas.
The minute matched the fastest of 34 works at the distance. Regular rider Florent Geroux will be aboard for the Pegasus, Cyberknife’s last start before joining Spendthrift Farm’s stallion band in Lexington, Ky.
“A really good move,” Cox said by phone. “Our horse is doing very, very well. It’s really amazing that he’s continued to get better with the long campaign he had. He had a brief break after the Breeders’ Cup. He went over and showed (for prospective breeders) at Spendthrift for around a week, came back and looked great. Since then we’ve made this march toward the Pegasus. This will be his last run. It will be bittersweet. Hopefully he goes out a winner.”
Cyberknife finished second by a head to the older Cody’s Wish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland.
“It was a big effort,” Cox said. “I was very proud of the race. He never quit. He was fighting back at the end. He ran a great race. It was a great finish. Obviously I wish we were on the other end of it. But look, he came out of the race great and hopefully we can get one last win with him before he goes off to stud.”
Cyberknife has had five works since the Breeders’ Cup. On Jan. 1, he also worked five furlongs, but the move was recorded as a half-mile in 49 seconds because of fog.
“Last week he had a good solid move,” Cox said. “This week he obviously picked up the pace with a big gallop-out. We’ve got two works left. We’ll ship the week of the race and see how things go.”
Cyberknife’s record of 5-4-1 and $2,087,520 in 12 starts includes victories in Oaklawn Park’s Arkansas Derby (G1) and Monmouth Park’s Haskell (G1), along with a second in Saratoga’s Travers (G1) and third in Parx’s Pennsylvania Derby (G1).
Cox is hoping Cyberknife can conclude his career in the same fashion as his sire, 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner, who captured the 2018 Pegasus World Cup. This will be Cox’s third straight appearance in America’s most lucrative dirt race for older horses outside the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). He won the Pegasus World Cup in 2021 with another Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile runner-up, Knicks Go. That horse went on to capture the Breeders’ Cup Classic to be voted 2021 Horse of the Year but finished second in the 2022 Pegasus behind Life Is Good.
Cox said Cyberknife will be his only entrant in the Pegasus World Cup stakes. Set Piece, an invitee to the Pegasus Turf, is getting his usual winter break and won’t run, he said.
Proxy Seeks Second Stakes - and second G1 - in Pegasus
Godolphin’s 5-year-old Proxy earned his first career stakes victory in Churchill Downs’ Nov. 25 Clark (G1) in his last start. Now he seeks his second in another Grade 1: the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by Baccarat at Gulfstream Park.
Proxy powered five-eighths of a mile in 1:00 in company Saturday at the Fair Grounds as trainer Mike Stidham picked up the son of Tapit’s training. The time was the second-fastest of 46 at the distance Saturday at the New Orleans track.
“It was a great work,” Stidham said by phone. “He had a workmate (Godolphin’s maiden winner Global Sensation) in front of him as a target. He finished up really nice, the gallop-out was strong. He galloped out three-quarters of a mile in 12-and-3. Couldn’t have gone any better. Came out of it in great shape. This was the first work we’ve asked him to finish stronger and gallop-out strong since his last race. He’s had a series of works, but this was the first stiff work we’ve put into him.”
Off an almost five-month layoff, Proxy came into the 1 1/8-mile Clark with five career seconds and a pair of thirds in stakes company before winning his start in a Grade 1. Overall, he’s 4-5-2 in 13 starts, earning $971,220.
“To make the first stakes win be a Grade 1 was a real bonus,” Stidham said. “But he had it coming. He was always just kind of a little bit behind maturity-wise as a 3-year-old. And he was running against arguably the best 3-year-olds in the country, having run against Mandaloun, Midnight Bourbon and all those horses on the Derby trail. He ran very well, competitively. He was always cut out to be a nice horse, but he was always just a step behind. Now he’s finally caught up. He’s matured both physically and mentally. He’s finally developed into the horse we always thought and hoped he could be.”
Joel Rosario will ride Proxy in the Pegasus. Stidham said the horse will work the next two Saturdays before shipping to Gulfstream on Sunday Jan. 22
Plans call for Proxy to run through the year, with the ultimate goal being the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita.