Cyberknife, who earned a spot in the GI Kentucky Derby with his win in the Apr. 2 GI Arkansas Derby, never factored on the First Saturday in May, but got a graded win under the Twin Spires with a dramatic victory in the GIII Matt Winn S. at Churchill Downs Sunday. Sent off the 1-2 favorite, the chestnut colt tucked in behind the early leaders to save ground on the first turn, but rushed up to press pacesetting Howling Time while racing keenly down the backstretch through moderate splits. Cyberknife rolled up confidently and looked set to storm clear entering the stretch, but Howling Time refused to yield. The two rivals, who floated wide into the stretch and exchanged some light bumps, drifted back to the rail as they battled toe to toe down the lane. Howling Time appeared to eke out an advantage inside the final sixteenth only to have Cyberknife claw his way back to get his nose in front on the line.
“He broke a little slow, but I was able to get him into a good position,” said winning jockey Florent Geroux. “He was traveling well and [Howling Time] was really game on my inside. We were battling the whole stretch. I couldn't tell which one of us won, but I'm glad it was Cyberknife.”
On the other side of the photo, jockey Joe Talamo, aboard Howling Time, said, “You can't get a more brutal beat than that.”
Cyberknife finished first in his debut at Churchill last September, only to be disqualified for interference and placed second. The handsome chestnut officially graduated in his third start at Fair Grounds Dec. 26 and opened 2022 with a sixth-place effort in the Jan. 22 GIII Lecomte S. He took a Fair Grounds optional claimer in February before his Apr. 2 Arkansas Derby win. Up close to the hot pace in the Kentucky Derby, he faded to 18th, beaten 42 3/4 lengths.
“He's still a developing 3-year-old and he gets that experience by running in the afternoon,” said winning trainer Brad Cox. “I think he's making good progress and ran hard today. We got on the right side of a tight photo. [Howling Time] ran a really game race. [Cyberknife] is a horse that I think we are looking to take the next step. He's a sound, happy horse and he's growing up. We're excited about him as a prospect throughout the rest of the year.”
Cyberknife, who became the third Grade I winner for Gun Runner with his Arkansas Derby score, was the second stakes winner on the Churchill card for the Three Chimneys stallion, who was also represented by Leslie's Lady S. winner Wicked Halo.
Multiple graded stakes placed Awesome Flower has an unraced 2-year-old colt by Tapit named Tapit Shoes who sold to BSW/Crow Colts Group for $300,000 at last year's Fasig-Tipton October sale. The mare produced a colt by Authentic this year.
Well Dressed, Cyberknife's third dam, produced G1 Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed, Grade I placed Helsinki and graded winner Witty.
Sunday, Churchill Downs
MATT WINN S.-GIII, $225,000, Churchill Downs, 6-12, 3yo, 1 1/16m, 1:41.98, ft.
1–CYBERKNIFE, 123, c, 3, by Gun Runner
1st Dam: Awesome Flower (MSW & MGSP, $556,593), by Flower Alley
2nd Dam: Formalities Aside, by Awesome Again
3rd Dam: Well Dressed, by Notebook
($400,000 Ylg '20 FTKSEL). O-Gold Square LLC; B-Kenneth L. &
Sarah K. Ramsey (KY); T-Brad H. Cox; J-Florent Geroux.
$136,520. Lifetime Record: GISW, 8-4-2-0, $996,520.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick
2–Howling Time, 118, c, 3, Not This Time–Werewolf, by Arch.
1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($200,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP).
O-Albaugh Family Stables LLC; B-Springhouse Farm (KY); T-Dale
3–Rattle N Roll, 123, c, 3, Connect–Jazz Tune, by Johannesburg.
($55,000 Wlg '19 KEENOV; $210,000 Ylg '20 KEESEP). O-Lucky
Seven Stable (Mackin); B-St. Simon Place (KY); T-Kenneth G.
Margins: NO, 6, 8. Odds: 0.50, 4.30, 4.40.
Also Ran: Droppin G's, Camp David, Trafalgar, Tough to Tame.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.