Fans of mob movies and New Jersey-centric reality TV shows know that Garden State characters often are not shy about using earthy language — especially when they are excited. So perhaps on Saturday at Monmouth Park, Jersey Shore native Al Gold, owner of the $1 million Haskell Stakes-winning horse Cyberknife, just lived up to expectations with his post-race interview on CNBC.
“There’s no clean words to use” to describe his delight at winning the biggest race of the year at a track he has been visiting for 50-plus years, said the 66-year-old Gold to TV reporter Britney Eurton. “All the descriptive words aren’t in the book. … Was that f*cking awesome?”
Eurton scrambled to move on, and Gold added of the victory, his first in the Haskell, “It means the world. It’s best thing ever. I was shocked that we won, I gotta watch the replay five f*cking thousand times — oh, I’m sorry — it was just awesome and I’ll never get over it.”
Well that was f***ing awesome 🤣#IYKYK
— Britney Eurton (@BritneyEurton) July 23, 2022
Trainer’s G-rated take
Brad Cox, the trainer for Cyberknife, told Eurton that the horse’s win in the Arkansas Derby indicated that he was “one of the top three-year-olds.”
“I think what happens is once he gets a lead, he loses focus,” Cox added. “Here in a big race, I’m very proud of him. I wasn’t super happy with the way he was in the paddock today, but he overcame it.”
What’s next for Cyberknife? Cox said he’ll look at either The Travers at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 27 or the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 24 as additional prep before The Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, on Nov. 4-5. Gold, meanwhile, suggested The Travers was his preference.
Zeroing in on the betting, Cyberknife paid $17.60, $5.20, and $2.80 as he won for the fourth time in six starts — with $600,000 going to Gold, who before this year’s Arkansas Derby and Haskell Stakes had never owned a Grade 1 stakes winner.
Trainer Chad Brown and jockey Flavien Prat had the winners of the $400,000 Monmouth Cup, the $200,000 Matchmaker Stakes, the $400,000 Molly Pitcher Stakes, and the $600,000 United Nations Stakes in consecutive races.
But in “the big one,” Brown’s favorite and undefeated Jack Christopher was bested down the stretch by both Cyberknife and second favorite Taiba with Mike Smith aboard.
“We’ve liked this horse from the get-go,” Cox said after the race. “Last summer when we worked him at Saratoga, I thought, man, this is a good horse. I figured out that you really can’t make the lead too early with him. He’d wait on other horses. He needs a target.”
Cyberknife won in a track record time of 1:46.24 for the 1 1/8th mile race before a crowd of 22,138.
More on the local flavor to this win
Gold, who in recent years moved to homes in Saratoga Springs, New York, and Delray Beach, Florida, has numerous friends who have been visiting the Oceanport track with him for decades — including Lou Filoso and Ron Riccio, the attorney for the state’s thoroughbred horsemen who prevailed over the NFL and other sports leagues in getting the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 to overturn a 26-year-old federal law. That court victory opened the door for any state to offer Las Vegas-style sports betting.
The group of pals also includes Monmouth Park media director Tom Luicci and, until his death in 2010, legendary Asbury Park Press columnist Bill Handleman.
“Every time I walk into Saratoga Race Course, I think Bill is still walking in there with me,” Gold told BloodHorse.
The horse’s name is not the typical horse tale. Cyberknife is actually the name of a non-invasive medical tool to treat prostate cancer that doctors used on Gold a few years ago.
“When I was first told I had cancer, fear overtook all logical thought,” Gold said. “Will I survive, what kind of treatment will I have, what about my family? Learning about the CyberKnife System gave me hope for my future.”
Gold told the Louisville Courier-Journal, “A lot of the famous horses in history are one-word names. I figured it was a good name too, aside from the fact of getting the name out there.”
Photo: Peter Ackerman/USA TODAY