Cyberknife To Head To Churchill For Derby, Secret Oath Points To Oaks - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Cyberknife To Head To Churchill For Derby, Secret Oath Points To Oaks

Cyberknife takes the Arkansas Derby

Cyberknife emerged in good order from his victory in the Arkansas Derby (G1) Saturday and most likely will ship Tuesday to Churchill Downs to begin preparing for the Kentucky Derby (G1) while Secret Oath, third in race, will also head to Louisville to prepare for the Kentucky Oaks (G1).

Cyberknife received a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 92 (a career high) for Saturday's 2 ¾-length victory over Barber Road, which marked the second consecutive for the son of Gun Runner since a disappointing sixth-place finish in his stakes debut, the Lecomte Stakes (G3) Jan. 22 at Fair Grounds.

Known for his frisky behavior – Cyberknife was disqualified from a career-debut victory last September at Churchill Downs for stretch interference – the colt dumped regular rider Florent Geroux in the post parade after the jockey was legged up in the infield.

“I didn't see it happen, but somebody yelled at me and I said, 'Oh,' ” trainer Brad Cox said. “I was too far away to do anything about it, but Florent was able to jump up on him by himself. He's got a lot of energy. He's feeling good. It's a nice, crisp morning and if you watched him walk around here, you definitely wouldn't think he ran a mile and an eighth yesterday. He's got a lot of energy.”

Cyberknife collected 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points with Saturday's victory and ranks fourth on the official leaderboard released Saturday night by Churchill Downs.

Cyberknife is 2 for 2 since Cox removed blinkers following the Lecomte. Cyberknife debuted with the equipment, then raced without blinkers in his next starts, including a troubled second-place finish in a Nov. 5 sprint at Churchill Downs. Cyberknife, in his two-turn debut, broke his maiden Dec. 26 at Fair Grounds before adding blinkers again in the Lecomte.

“Was super disappointed in his second run,” Cox said. “I was in California maybe for the Breeders' Cup for that race. But I was like 'Aw, you know, this is our spot; this is when we're going to get our maiden broken.' He didn't run bad; he just wouldn't go by the other horse. Not to take anything away from the winner that day (Classic Moment), but I thought he was goofing off and not really focused and paying attention. If you watch his race replays, they tell you more about him than anything in regards to his antics down the lane. Obviously in the post parade yesterday, he did get Flo off and he's a handful, he really is. He's not bad. He's just full of energy.”

Cox also trains lightly raced Zozos, who was a 10 ¼-length entry-level allowance winner Feb. 11 at Oaklawn before finishing second in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at 1 3/16 miles March 26 at Fair Grounds in his most recent start. Zozos also is safely in the Kentucky Derby field with 40 points to rank 13th.

“Knock on wood, right?” said Cox, who has captured two consecutive Eclipse Awards as the country's outstanding trainer. “We've been able to flop horses back for several years now, between both locations, Oaklawn and Fair Grounds. We have several horses here that train at Oaklawn that ran down at the Fair Grounds and vice versa and they work well together. Both operations work really well together. Listen, we can't have them all here or have them all there. Believe me, I would like to have them all in one place like that with the numbers that we. I've always felt pretty confident that when a horse is doing well and training well, one of these two surfaces they can ship to and perform well.”

Cyberknife, who is owned by Gold Square LLC (Al Gold), has a 3-2-0 record from six lifetime starts and earnings of $860,000.

Barber Road also came out of the Arkansas Derby in good shape physically, trainer John Ortiz said Sunday morning. Barber Road has 58 points to rank ninth on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. All of Barber Road's points have been collected in Oaklawn's four-race Kentucky Derby prep series, with runner-up finishes in the Smarty Jones Stakes at one mile Jan. 1 and  Southwest Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 29, a third-place finish in the Rebel Stakes (G2) at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 26 and another second in the Arkansas Derby.

“Right now, we don't have any plans of moving him,” said Ortiz, who has never had a Kentucky Derby starter. “He sprung a shoe, so we're going to get that fixed first and address that. He got banged around there down the stretch, but he's just a tough little horse.”

Ortiz said Barber Road will eventually ship straight to Churchill Downs to train for the Kentucky Derby. Ortiz said he will have a 20-horse string there this spring.

Updated Kentucky Derby/Oaks Leaderboard

Secret Oath, the Arkansas Derby favorite, was facing males for the first time after winning her three starts at the meeting, including the Martha Washington Stakes Jan. 29 and Honeybee Stakes (G3) Feb. 26, by a combined 23 lengths.

In the Arkansas Derby, Secret Oath, last of nine, made a sweeping six-wide move on the second turn to reach contention before weakening late to finish three-quarters of a length behind Barber Road.

“She was tired,” said trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. “That move she made was a terrific move for a filly at this stage of her career, to keep going. Watching it live, I thought she's probably going to hang a little bit here. She almost had to. It was a monster move. But when she came back, she was tired. The beautiful thing is we've got five weeks now. I said that before the race and now it gives us some direction. We're not thinking Derby. Now, we're focused on what we should be – the Oaks – and we've got five weeks to get back in form.”

Lukas said Secret Oath and stablemates Ethereal Road and Ignitis will ship Tuesday to Churchill Downs. Ignitis, third in the Smarty Jones, is pointing for the Lafayette Stakes (G1) at seven furlongs April 8 at Keeneland.

Ethereal Road, the Rebel runner-up, is scheduled to make his next start in the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at 1 1/8 miles April 9 at Keeneland. Ethereal Road has 20 points to rank 24th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.

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