With its $3 million purse for 2023, it’s a given that the Pegasus World Cup Invitational will attract legions of runners whose previous lives may not have turned out quite the way their connections had hoped. Cyberknife leads this field of twelve as the biggest favorite on the morning line for Saturday’s race, with strong but lesser-known Proxy as second favourite, and perennial runner-up Skippylong Stocking currently sitting third most likely to win.
But before we get into what Cyberknife is really up against on track in this field of twelve (with two alternates if there are scratches on race day), here’s a refresher on the posts and the morning lineup.
(Post position, horse, morning line)
1) Proxy, 9-2
2) Simplification, 15-1
3) Riddin with Biden, 20-1
4) Wyatt Abario, 10-1
5) Defined, 6-1
6) Art collector, 10-1
7) Skippy the Longstocking, 5-1
8) Get her number, 15-1
9) The Last Samurai, 20-1
10) Cyberknife, 5-2
11) Stilletto Boy, 30-1
12) O’Connor, 10-1
(Date: January 27, 2023, Source: CBS Sports)
Of note to exotics players will be Art Collector, in post position 6, and White Abarrio, interrupting post position 4, and surprise newcomer O’Connor, on the outside of post position 12, all at a decent price of 10-1 and all with shots against each of the top three favorites. To do so, these 10-1s will need to step up their game against Proxy and Skippylongstocking and especially, as reflected with some specificity in the morning line, against Cyberknife.
Two things to remember about Cyberknife. His coach, Brad Cox, has stuck by him through thick and thin and is clearly a believer, albeit with a reserve of cold-blooded analysis for his charge. The trainer won the Pegasus in 2021 with Knicks Go and made a valiant attempt to win it twice with Knicks Go last year, but the horse finished second to Life Is Good. Of Cyberknife, who finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile last November, a seething Cox said, “I wouldn’t change anything we’ve done with him in the last few months since the Breeders’ Cup. The horse is phenomenal physically, mentally and his work is really good. If we have a good week, we’ll be in great shape.”
It’s true that Cyberknife likes to be out front, if not the leader, and that style will likely help him at Gulfstream, which is a new track for the Kentucky-bred son of Gun Runner. It is believed that this is only a slight drawback for him. The outside post position will help improve that, but Cyberknife will need to get a clean break and have a tough fight to get ahead from there. He’s got the strength and stamina and looks like he’s worth every penny of the winner’s prize – which is to say, he’s taken to Florida and his coat has that racehorse shine at its peak. He will retire to return home to Kentucky at Spendthrift after this race.
Jockey Florent Geroux is in contention for Cox and he knows the horse so the chances of a clean break are good. That being said, if Cyberknife gets caught in early traffic and doesn’t get ahead as quickly as he would like, Geroux will have his hands full doing it, as was the case in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.