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Devil take the hindmost, Cyberknife is retiring to a cushy life of siring colts and fillies at Spendthrift after his richest race ever, the $3 million Pegasus World Cup this afternoon at Gulfstream. That outcome will be decided approximately one minute and fifty-odd seconds after the 5:40 p.m. post time (ET), but it’s a good moment before we whip out our fat wads and shove them through the windows, to take a closer look at the Pegasus favorite.
As we said of his nearest rival Proxy earlier, Cyberknife is a journeyman, but of a very elite sort. Classically, “journeymen” don’t win Breeders’ Cup races, no matter which of the many Breeders’ races in which they hit the wire first. But Cyberknife is a journeyman in a finicky, not-always-at-the-top-of-his-game kind of way, and it has caused some ripples in his stats.
Before we take a closer race-day look at Cyberknife, herewith, today’s odds. Nota bene: We’re going to be quoting odds from a variety of makers through the day, chiefly, the hard-nosed British touts, who have much more finely-sliced fractional odds than Vegas oddsmakers or than Gulfstream itself, whose betmaker “1st Bet” doesn’t publicize its live odds. We’ll be updating our odds whenever there are significant jumps in them up until post time. Trust us: The British odds on major American races are excellent barometers because the British are passionate horsemen; their trainers, jockeys and owners participate in the big American races.
You’ll notice that the light, former second-tier favorite, O’Connor (at 10-1 in the US morning line, is very much not liked in London, at SkyBet, at 33-1. By contrast, Defunded is now a top favorite in London, at a flat 5-1. White Abarrio is a far more nuanced 15-2 in London this morning. Not only does this play indicate what will happen as the track gates open at Hallandale a bit later this morning, the British players’ view is really useful in fashioning your exotics with whatever US provider you choose, whether it’s at the track or online.
(Post Position, Horse, Live Odds (London))
1) Proxy, 5-1
2) Simplification, 18-1
3) Ridin with Biden, 50-1
4) White Abarrio, 15-2
5) Defunded, 5-1
6) Art Collector, 12-1
7) Skippylongstocking, 7-1
8) Get Her Number, 16-1
9) Last Samurai, 33-1
10) Cyberknife, 7-4
11) Stilletto Boy, 25-1
12) O’Connor, 33-1
(Date: January 28, 2023, Source: SkyBet, Time: 5:09 a.m. ET)
To wit: Cyberknife has had a total of 12 starts in his life, five of which he has won. That is a high percentage of wins, shaving just under 50%, and the victories are spread out through his short career, most famously and lucratively ending last July when he won the Haskell. Of his remaining 7 races, he’s rung up four places and one show. Of the 12 starts, then, there have been just two starts when he finished out of the money. The first was a negligible run in the Grade III Lecomte a year ago, in which he finished sixth. The second was his infamous, reputation-destroying last place in last year’s Grade I $3-million Kentucky Derby.
To say that the $3 million Kentucky Derby is the equivalent of the $3 million Pegasus would be inaccurate. True, their dollar amount is (for the moment) identical, but the races serve very different functions in the racing calendar, and in the lives of the athletes who run them. Longer by an eighth-of-a-mile than the Pegasus, the Derby is the crowded debut cotillion of the nation’s finest 3-year-old debutantes. The Pegasus is, often, a rich punctuation mark to a racing career and, because of its odd January place in the calendar, often draws a sort of grab bag field of whomever is judged fit to make it. That’s true of every horse race, but the point about the Pegasus here is, January is not the teeth of the season in any way. The narrative through line for Cyberknife is that each of these races fulfills exactly those above functions for this horse, one year apart.
Cyberknife hasn’t gotten that memo and wouldn’t care about it even if he had, but his two-legged connections and his backers surely do care about it. The question is what sort of metric the — given Cyberknife’s otherwise very respectable career — disastrous Kentucky Derby performance actually is, and that is not answerable until the buglers call the athletes to the track this afternoon in Hallandale. Because: Each race Cyberknife was in since last year’s Derby was a lesser race than the Kentucky Derby, and it has taken the sum of them all to build his reputation back since that performance.
The takeaway is this: In effect, despite this year’s somewhat patchwork Pegasus field, there are some fast horses in it, and the Pegasus — Cyberknife’s valediction — is ironically the only race that can answer the question that the Derby posed for him 9 months ago.
Because: This equation is at the heart of racing. In somewhat less than two minutes after Gulfstream’s starters open the gate, Cyberknife will be gone.