Cyber Secret remained undefeated during the current meet at Oaklawn Park by scoring a mild upset in the 67th edition of the $500,000 Oaklawn Park Handicap (G2) in front of 66,158 hometown fans in Saturday. With the win, he gave owner and track president Charles J. Cella and his long-time trainer Lynn Whiting their first victories in one of the track’s signature events.
Cella’s Cyber Secret has now won four consecutive races and two straight stakes in four outings this year. Dispatched at 6-1, he bested a field of nine other top handicap horses which included defending Breeders’ Cup Classic champion and 1-9 favorite Fort Larned.
“I thought he ran great today,” said winning rider Robby Albarado, who also notched his first Oaklawn Handicap victory. “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.”
Cyber Secret, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Broken Vow out of the Dixieland Band mare Stomping, sat behind splits of :22.95, 46:56 and 1:10.97 set by 25-1 shot Taptowne and then assumed command coming out of the far turn to kick clear though the lane and cover the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.67 on a fast track. Taptowne hung on for second 5 ¾ lengths behind and Sabercat, sent off at 35-1, was another 2 ¾ lengths back.
Jockey Calvin Borel, who was aboard Taptowne said, “He was galloping along. I think he ran the race of his life today. He ran big.”
The same cannot be said of Fort Larned, who was making his second start of the year and first since rider Brian Hernandez, Jr. was unseated when he stumbled at the start of the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2). He stalked the early pace but when Hernandez asked him to run at the top of the lane, he came up empty.
“I don’t know what to think. 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,” said trainer Ian Wilkes. “Congratulations to Lynn (Whiting) and Mr. Cella.”
Whiting, who said that he will likely take the multiple stakes winning colt to Churchill Downs next for the Alysheba Stakes (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 (on March 9) was his first graded win at his home track. Now, he’s won his second.”
Alternation, the 2012 winner of the race who is trained by Donnie K. Von Hemel, showed little and could fare no better than fifth.
“That wasn’t him today. It seemed like we were in the right spot, but he’s not the same horse he was last year. Maybe next time he comes back better,” said jockey Luis Quinonez.
Cyber Secret returned $15, $6.20 and $4.60. With the $300,000 winner’s portion of the purse, he upped his career earnings to $552,564. He has now won six of 14 lifetime starts
“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.”