It was supposed to be a showdown between Santa Anita Derby winner Taiba and the undefeated Jack Christopher. But in the end, it was Cyberknife, who had a great inward journey under jockey Florent Geroux, who beat Taiba by a header in the $1 million Haskell Stakes on Saturday at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, NJ. .
Longshot Benevengo took the lead early, with Jack Christopher and Taiba in good stalking positions. Halfway through the far corner and up the stretch, Benevengo started to slow down and it looked like it was Jack Christopher’s race to win, but there was the question of whether the New York-based colt – who had never run beyond a mile – could handle the 1-1/8 mile run. He could not.
Along the inside, Cyberknife found a clear path halfway as Taiba went four wide. Taiba looked to win over Cyberknife in the final strides, but was unsuccessful.
Cyberknife paid $17.60 to win and was followed by Taiba, Jack Christopher, Howling Time, Benevengo, King Of Hollywood, White Abarrio and One Time Willard.
“He trained well in the race, but he wanted to get some action in the paddock,” winning trainer Brad Cox told TVG after the race. “He was a bit hot for my taste. But in the end he had a good race, got behind the horses and Florent did a good job. When he asked her, he answered well. It was a great trip from Florent.”
Although his horse was second, Bob Baffert, who resumed training Taiba after a 90-day suspension, was pleased with the performance.
“He ran such a gallant race,” Baffert told The Times from Del Mar. “He just needed one more job to freshen him up from the Derby. [where he finished 12th]. He showed how talented he was. »
Taiba was only running his fourth race, having won the Santa Anita Derby in his second race and run in the Kentucky Derby in his third.
“This horse was thrown in the deep end,” Baffert said, alluding to the horse’s oversized competition given his inexperience.
“Now I can step back and choose our places. I’ll take it back to Del Mar and freshen it up. It ran very well and I was hoping to win it for [owner] Amr [Zedan]. I still think he’s one of the best 3-year-olds.
With the win, Cyberknife gets free entry to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, to be held Nov. 5 at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. As for Taiba, he’ll likely need another race to see if he’s ready to take on older horses in the Breeders’ Cup. There is no specific race for 3-year-olds in the end-of-year competition.