Published on March 14th, 2023
Racehorse owner Al Gold, who races under the stable name of Gold Square LLC, has been in horse racing for over five decades. As a teenager, he discovered a passion for betting on horse races and, for a time, aspired to make a career out of handicapping. Although that never fully materialized, Gold remained involved with the Sport of Kings, and purchased his first racehorse in 2004. His stable eventually grew to about 25 horses, spread out among a handful of trainers.
It wasn’t until 2022, however, that Gold, partnering with trainer Brad Cox, started to hit the big time.
That was the year that he had his first Derby prospect- a chestnut colt by Gun Runner out of the Flower Alley mare Awesome Flower- was named Cyberknife, and he represented a turning point not only in Gold’s racing prowess, but his personal life as well. Now he is one of the 2023 Kentucky Derby contenders.
The story of Cyberknife begins at a low point in Al Gold’s life. In 2021, Gold received crushing news: he had prostate cancer.
Although Gold was blindsided by the news, his determination soon took over as he sought some of the newest and most technologically advanced treatments available. What he found was a non-invasive radiation delivery system called the CyberKnife, which allowed for a more accurately targeted dose of radiation to be delivered to his tumor. Gold received five treatments and, as of this writing, is in remission.
Gold credited the CyberKnife system with saving his life. As a way of honoring the treatments he received, he bestowed his most promising racehorse with the name “Cyberknife.”
As a racehorse, Cyberknife always showed a lot of talent, but took a while to mature enough to channel the talent properly. In his very first start, he crossed the finish line first by a half-length, only to be disqualified and placed second for interfering with second place-finisher Hoist the Gold.
In his second start, he was unable to keep a straight course in the stretch, which caused him to tire and fall short by a half-length.
He broke his maiden in his following start, but this kicked off a streak of inconsistency for Cyberknife.
He came up empty in his first try against stakes company in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes but followed that with an easy allowance win and the Grade I Arkansas Derby, which vaulted him into the Kentucky Derby picture. However, he finished 18th in the Kentucky Derby. Cyberknife was then given a month’s rest and returned with a victory in the Grade III Matt Winn Stakes.
Perhaps Cyberknife’s finest moment came in the Grade I Haskell Stakes, when he battled the length of the Monmouth Park stretch with Grade I Santa Anita Derby winner Taiba, prevailing by a neck and establishing a new track record for nine furlongs.
After a runner-up effort in the Grade I Travers Stakes, Cyberknife had a rematch with Taiba in the Grade I Pennsylvania Derby, but failed to truly fire, finishing third.
Gold and Cox made no secret of the fact that they did not want to put their colt up against undefeated Horse of the Year Flightline in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at a distance they felt was not optimal for Cyberknife (1 ¼ miles), so they entered him in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile instead. Cyberknife ran well to finish a very close second to the older Cody’s Wish.
Cyberknife’s final race came in the Grade I Pegasus World Cup. Although Cyberknife was favored by the betting public, he showed little and finished sixth.
Now, instead of fulfilling Al Gold’s hopes on the track, Cyberknife and Spendthrift Farm will do their best to honor him in the breeding shed. Cyberknife stands for a fee of $30,000; it was reported on March 1st that the stakes performing mare Afleet Lover was confirmed in foal to him.
And so the cycle continued. Life went on, and, just as retirement plans for Cyberknife were being finalized, a new potential superstar was emerging for Al Gold.
A year ago, Al Gold may have believed that Cyberknife was a once-in-a-lifetime horse, but he now owns a Bolt d’Oro out of Follow No One (by Uncle Mo) who is even more accomplished now than Cyberknife was at this point in his career.
As his name implies, Instant Coffee packed a punch very quickly in his career.
A debut winner, Instant Coffee finished a respectable fourth in his first Grade I venture, only missing third place money by a head. He followed this loss up with wins in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and the Grade III Lecomte Stakes and is regarded as one of the early favorites for the 2023 Kentucky Derby.
Will Cyberknife and Instant Coffee continue to fulfill Al Gold’s hopes and dreams? Only time will tell.
Image Source: flickr.com