Pegasus World Cup 2023: Cyberknife’s And Proxy’s Race-Within-A-Race


That Cyberknife loves Keeneland’s track is a known fact about the Pegasus frontrunner, but it’s worth looking at his Breeders’ Dirt Mile performance closely to determine what he might do in the Pegasus’ one-and-one-eighth. His trainer Brad Cox has dryly observed of Cyberknife’s second place to Cody’s Wish, ““He ran good, just second best. He ran great. No excuse. Florent (Geroux) gave him a perfect trip, just came up a little bit short, bottom line.”

While that is true, the internal working of that race is worth study. A mile is both a short and a long race, but it runs like a short one, which is to say, a horse and rider do not have that extra eighth, or quarter, or sixteenth of a mile to play with in the stretch. Many horse races are won and lost long before the field turns for home, but in the case of last year’s Dirt Mile, Cyberknife was gunning for the front as the field turned for home, and was just edged out by a head by Cody’s Wish, who accomplished that by going three wide.

But before we get into Proxy’s chances to take Cyberknife down, herewith, a refresher of the odds.

(Post Position, Horse, Morning Line)

1) Proxy, 9-2

2) Simplification, 15-1

3) Ridin with Biden, 20-1

4) White Abarrio, 10-1


5) Defunded, 6-1

6) Art Collector, 10-1

7) Skippylongstocking, 5-1

8) Get Her Number, 15-1

9) 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)

Proxy is a journeyman race horse, plain and simple, and journeymen can and do meet with success. Their trick is to be there to pick up the pieces at whatever finish line. And then go out there and be there again at a different finish line. It will make a career, as it has done in Proxy’s case.

Proxy has had four wins since his career began in 2020, but two of those wins were juvenile, and both occurred in that year, his first on the track. Since January of 2021, Proxy has had ten starts and out of that, two wins, which is not shabby, but not great, either.

It would be logical to think that the $3 million Pegasus is a big step up for Proxy, and that’s also true, but the reason he’s more or less “appeared out of nowhere” as the second favorite in this race is his last win, which was also his last race, the Clark, at Churchill Downs on November 25 of last year. The recency matters, as does the decisiveness of the victory: Proxy drove it home over the Clark’s mile-and-an-eighth in 1:48.89, earning him a speed figure of 105. Which is very handy.

Like his rival Cyberknife, Proxy is a front runner, if also considerably less celebrated, and thus less “believed in” by the oddsmakers. But that quotient of belief, and his ultimate rank in the morning line on the second rung of the ladder of probability to win the Pegasus, is improved and that resides in the kinds of steady performances he turned in throughout 2022. Working backwards from his late November triumph in the Clark at Churchill, Cyberknife laid down, in succession, a show, a place, a show, a place, and a win.

Put another way, Proxy had a rocking 2022, finishing in the money in all six of his races that year. Now, did he run against the very best at Keeneland and the Fair Grounds? No. But he did beat the hell out of almost every one of them.

In a word Proxy is tough. The second thing that his very good 2022 teaches us is that Proxy is tactical. He tries to make the best out of every race, even if he is in there scrapping for place, he’s scrapping for place. It also means that he doesn’t mind being in scrappy situations where you have to fight through traffic to the wire, a very helpful trait in the Pegasus’ field of twelve.

The takeaway is that if the break is clean and the horses get away, Proxy is mentally poised to turn every little bobble and burp in the race to his advantage. He will get there because his journeyman’s career is built on getting there. And, if we racegoers are very lucky, that is the opponent that Cyberknife and Florent Geroux will meet in the stretch.