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Taking Down Spend a Buck


Not only did Cyberknife beat the talented Jack Christopher in the 2022 Haskell Stakes,

but he also did what many thought could never happen.

He beat the champion Spend a Buck after a 37-year long reign.


On July 27, 1985, Kentucky Derby Champion Spend a Buck entered the gate in the 54th running of the Monmouth/Haskell Invitational. Prior to 1981, the race was known as the Monmouth Invitational with a name change to the Haskell that we know today. That year, the great Spend a Buck lost to a longshot named Skip Trial by 3-3/4 lengths. Just like the talented Jack Christopher, Spend a Buck tired in the stretch and was denied a walk to the Winner's Circle. The Belmont stakes winner of that year, Creme Fraiche, took the third trophy.


The loss to Skip Trial in the Haskell ended Spend a Buck's four race winning streak. Coincidentally, Cyberknife did the same thing to Jack Christopher in the very same race thirty-seven years later. Jack's four race winning streak went up in smoke when Taiba passed his nose and then Cyberknife came flying up the rail like a freight train, leaving both in his rear-view mirror.


The only thing that Spend a Buck's jockey, Laffit Pincay could say after the race was, "He just got plain tired".



The Haskell loss was simply a prelude to the legacy that Spend a Buck would leave on Monmouth Park. A legacy that has held up for close to 4 decades.


Back at Monmouth Park just 3 weeks later, on August 17, 1985 to compete in the Monmouth Handicap at the same 9f distance, the great horse would not be denied again. This time, he beat Carr de Naskra by a nose in a track record time of 1:46.80. This record for the 9f distance at Monmouth Park has stood tall for 37 years.


Back in 2015, the buzz for that edition of the Haskell race was all about how American Pharoah was going to be the one to topple Spend a Buck's 1:46.80 record at Monmouth Park. By most accounts at the time, it was not even a question of whether or not he could do it, but it was more about by how much he would beat it by. Pharoah did take home the Haskell trophy that year, beating Keen Ice by 2-1/4 lengths, but he was a far cry from Buck's record. Pharoah's final time was 1:47.95.


The Haskell has always been a much-anticipated race, as the better Derby players begin their summer campaigns in the lead up to the Breeders Cup. This year, four of the top players took their gates in hopes of not only winning the race, but also in the quest of beating the great Spend a Buck's record. Jack Christopher, Taiba, Cyberknife and White Abarrio entered the 9f gate at Monmouth, all with a chance at the two trophies. This was a pace race, just like the Kentucky Derby, but in the opposite direction.


Just like Spend a Buck, the star of the field, Jack Christopher, tired in the stretch. The moderate pace set by Benevengo in 23.50 set everything in motion to the advantage of Jack Christopher and Cyberknife. That favorable pace was not only a gift for the Haskell trophy for Cyberknife, but that horse did the unthinkable. He beat the other horses who weren't even at Monmouth Park that day.

Cyberknife de-throned both Majestic Light (1976) and also Bet Twice (1987) who held the fastest Haskell record, both at 1:47.00.


But even more significant, Cyberknife

snatched Spend a Buck's long-standing achievement as well.


Cyberknife slid up that rail and crossed that wire in 1:46.24, which is .56 faster than Spend a Buck's 9f record. To say that is an amazing triumph is an understatement. We are not simply speaking about the Haskell Stakes; it is about every 9f race ever held at Monmouth Park since 1985. It is about every one of the great names and Champions who have competed and won those races over the decades, all with a chance to beat Buck's record and falling short.


The 7.80 to 1 contender in the 2022 Haskell Stakes beat them all...


Names like American Pharoah, Rachel Alexander, Big Brown, War Emblem, Point Given, Skip Away, Holy Bull, Alysheba, etc. etc. had their opportunity to take that prestigious record but it was the son of Gun Runner and Grandson of Candy Ride who came along as the 4th betting choice in a field of only 8 contenders and blew up not only Jack Christopher, but a record in every 9f race ever run at Monmouth Park for the last 37 years.


There is not a Saturday afternoon better spent than watching history being both broken and made by a present-day runner. Every weekend that goes by confirms what a fantastic group of runners we have to look forward to for the rest of the season. It also reconfirms the mess that Summer is Tomorrow made of our Kentucky Derby this year. Spectacularly talented horses who competed and lost all chance to showcase their talents after exactly 21 seconds into that race. Horses like Cyberknife, Mo Donegal, Charge It, Tawny Port, and even Taiba, are all making up for it now. What is even better, we still have names like Epicenter, Simplification, Messier, Zandon, Early Voting, Nest, and on turf with Classic Causeway on the horizon. Flightline, Olympiad and Life is Good among others. November 4th and 5th at Keeneland will be a bettor's paradise with money spread all over that tote board because of the quality that 2022 is seeing. Astonishing as it is, many of those names listed come from the stamina end of the spectrum, which is quite different from recent years. This year is not an easy task for the handicapper.


Cyberknife broke the Haskell's track record held since 1976/1987 and he beat the 9f Monmouth track record held since 1985. It took a stamina drenched monster in Cyberknife to do it as opposed to a speed driven undefeated superstar in Jack Christopher. This alone gives faith in future breeding and the possibility of stamina making a long-awaited comeback. Times appear to be changing. For the Better.

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6 comentários


Membro desconhecido
30 de jul. de 2022

I love Epicenter. Even though it was s very small field, they were still all very good horses. Epicenter looked like he was doing an easy workout, barely breaking a sweat. The Travers field will be smokin with Charge It, Cyberknife and Epicenter. As much as I love Epicenter, I think Charge It is going to fly at Saratoga. And Cyberknife is top notch. The Travers is going to be one hell of a race.

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Membro desconhecido
25 de jul. de 2022

I use pedigreequery to obtain the dosage of horses. Their mare numbers do not match yours example jack christopher mare 6-3-5-9-6 pedigreequery 4-14-6-0-0 Should I Be using another site? If so which one

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Membro desconhecido
31 de jul. de 2022
Respondendo a

Thank you for the explanation on the Mares side of the numbers Lisa. I was also one of the uninformed. Reading pedigree query since forever and never knew. Never to old to learn I will adapt. As I so often counsel my two grandsons, "every pitch counts". Pay attention is all. Focus. I'll be eyes wide open to your Traver's comments. A horse race it will be, and that is what makes this sport so grand.

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Membro desconhecido
24 de jul. de 2022

What an inspiring and well written writeup, Lisa. Really enjoyed reading this. I have never really "warmed up" to cyberknife, despite the trainer being my home track Oaklawn based, but he's got that sinewy body that makes a good router. So I guess I've warmed up to him more now, and with your article, too. I have to appreciate Geroux, too, he seems to know the right timing, i.e. when to "let go the horse" which is exactly how Cybernife won the Arkansas Derby. I just had such a bad hangover about him since he did so poorly in the KY Derby and Lecomte, i kept thinking he was an imposter. I had his sire to win t…

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Membro desconhecido
24 de jul. de 2022
Respondendo a

First, thank you! I appreciate it. Honestly, if someone told me that the Haskell this year would produce a winner who would beat Spend A Buck's record, I would have bet everything I had that it would have been Jack Christopher to do it. What Cyberknife did was nothing short of brilliance based on his balance.

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