Winner of the Razorback Handicap (gr. III) March 9 by only a head, Cyber Secret recorded his fourth straight win this season at Oaklawn for trainer Lynn Whiting. It was Cyber Secret's fifth victory from eight tries during his career over the Oaklawn main track.
Whiting, who said that he will likely take the multiple stakes winning colt to Churchill Downs next for the Alysheba Stakes (gr. III on May 4), was emotional as he stood on the track waiting to unsaddle Cyber Secret.
“I knew he was sitting on a big, big race. I couldn’t be any happier with him. He’s just done everything right this whole meet,” he said.” I’m thrilled for Mr. Cella. The Razorback was his first graded win at his home track. Now, he’s won his second.”
With Robby Albarado in the irons, the 6-1 shot posted a 5 3/4-length victory while running 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.67 over a fast track. Pacesetter Taptowne, sent off at 28-1 odds, stuck around for second, with 36-1 Sabercat third.
“It’s not about me owning the track. It’s about the horse. He’s such a great horse and he has a great trainer,” said Cella, whose family has founded the Hot Springs landmark 105 years ago.
Louis Cella, Charles’ son, added “I’m just speechless. Speaking for myself, this is so great for dad with as much as he’s put into the game for so long.”
After pressing the leaders on the outside to the quarter pole, Fort Larned came under a ride from Brian Hernandez Jr. before giving way coming into the stretch. Last fall's Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner finished fifth as the 123-pound high weight.
Cyber Secret, a 4-year-old by Broken Vow out of the Dixieland Band mare Stomping, was a $110,000 Keeneland November purchase in 2009. The bay colt was bred in Kentucky by Paragon Farms.
Breaking from the rail in the field of 10, Cyber Secret stalked at the rail while racing fourth as Taptowne and Calvin Borel went to the front immediately and led Golden Ron and Fort Larned, who was parked three wide. After quarter mile fractions of :22.95 and :46.56, Albarado allowed Cyber Secret to creep into contention on the inside of Fort Larned leaving the backstretch.
They completed six furlongs in 1:10.97 as Cyber Secret advanced into second and Fort Larned was soon in trouble. Cyber Secret challenged Taptowne in upper stretch as Fort Larned dropped back, getting the lead near the eighth pole and steadily drawing off under slight urging from Albarado.
“I thought he ran great today,” said winning rider Robby Albarado. “They were clipping right along up front, but at every part of the race I felt like he was in my hands. He wanted to do it. Turning for home, he exploded for me and then held off some very nice horses.”
Taptowne finished 2 3/4 lengths in front of the late-running Sabercat, who closed from sixth with Ricardo Santana Jr. aboad.
“He was galloping along," Borel said of Taptowne. "I think he ran the race of his life today. He ran big.”
“I don’t know what to think," trainer Ian wilkes said of Fort Larned, who was making his second start of the year after dropping jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. at the start of the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. IIT) March 9. "He ran a little flat. I just want to get him back to the barn and make sure he’s ok. He didn’t run his race.”
Cyber Secret, who improved his career record to six wins and a second from 14 starts, extended his earnings to $552,564 with the winning share of $300,000. He began the Oaklanw meet Jan. 21 with the first of two allowance/optional claiming wins leading to his narrow win in the 1 1/16-mile Razorback.
The winner carried 117 pounds and paid $15, $6.20, and $4.60. Taptowne returned $21 and $13.20 while completing a $325.40 exacta. Sabercat was $11.80 to show.