Cyberknife winning the Arkansas Derby with Florent Geroux on board
Jockey Florent Geroux capped a great day Saturday at Oaklawn with an upset win aboard Gold Square LLC’s Cyberknife in the Grade 1, $1,250,000 Arkansas Derby. Earlier that day at the Hot Springs, Ark. track, Geroux won two G3 races: the $400,000 Oaklawn Mile with Fulsome and the $600,000 Fantasy with Yuugiri. Brad Cox trains Cyberknife and Fulsome.
After making a bold move that separated leading horses Kavod and Chasing Time as they approached the far corner, Geroux and Cyberknife took command down the stretch and broke away to win by 2 3/4 lengths. Barber Road was a late finisher for second, defeating Secret Oath, the D. Wayne Lukas-trained filly, who posted a 7-5 favorite in three successive wins. Doppelganger, making his first start for Tim Yakteen after being transferred from the stable of trainer Bob Baffert, a four-time Arkansas Derby winner, was fourth. Completing the order of arrival were Kavod, Ben Diesel, We the People, Un Ojo and Chasing Time.
The Arkansas Derby is a qualifying race on the Kentucky Derby Road that awards 100 points to the winner, 40 for finishing second, 20 for third and 10 for fourth. Cyberknife’s win secures him a spot in the Kentucky Derby, giving Trainer Cox a strong candidate for a possible second straight Derby win following Mandaloun’s win via drug disqualification of Medina Spirit in 2021 .
Updated Kentucky Derby/Oaks Standings
The time for the 1 1/8 miles on a fast track was 1:50.42. Cyberknife returned $13.60 on a $2 parimutuel bet. The 3-year-old colt from the first crop of Three Chimneys Farm stallion Gun Runner was bred in Kentucky by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and was purchased, on behalf of Al Gold, by Joe Hardoon for $400,000 at the Fasig-Year Sale. Tipton Kentucky 2020. The Arkansas Derby winner was bred by the Flower Alley stakes winning mare Awesome Flower.
Cyberknife, breaking from the No. 8 post position, settled into fourth position early, slipping behind Kavod, Chasing Time and Doppelganger into the first corner. Kavod set fractions of :22.11 and :46.54 for the opening half-mile under pressure from Chasing Time, with Doppelganger running third.
Approaching the far turn, Geroux fired a Cyberknife between the two frontrunners and battled them to a six furlong split in 1:11.22. Luis Contreras, aboard Secret Oath, got caught near the back of the field but then spun her around to start a strong play.
Going into the homestretch, Cyberknife held the lead as Chasing Time and Doppelganger retreated, dropping to eighth place and then recovering to finish fourth. Secret Oath circled the field with a strong move to bid, but flattened out in the last furlong after the opening mile clocked in at 1:37.24. Barber Road and Reylu Gutierrez climbed over the rail to pass Secret Oath for second approaching the wire.
“Great effort with some high hopes for him,” Geroux said. “We always thought he was very talented. It looks like he finally put it together and it’s probably not even 100 percent since he was weaving down the lane. I hope he will be a little more serious on the first Saturday in May. But, a very talented horse.”
The Cyberknife victory was the colt’s third in five starts and first in a stake. His only previous attempt was on January 22 at the Fair Grounds when he finished sixth behind Call Me Midnight in the G3 Lecomte.
“You see these horses train and you have high hopes,” Cox said of Cyberknife. “Sometimes, they lift you up, sometimes they let you down. In this case, he picked us up today. We thought he was a good colt. He put up some good (speed) numbers last time. I really don’t know what happened at Lecomte: from a first win at Lecomte it was too fast for him. He looked great at the Lecomte and then he straightened up and was nowhere to be found, he backed out. So he certainly trained like a great horse and raced like one today. He was a little worried that he (Florent Geroux) might have been moving a little early at a fast pace. But obviously it worked. Very, very proud of him.”
Winning jockey Florent Geroux, Cyberknife: