By Ed McNamara
She’s competed at nine tracks this year, winning a graded stakes in Florida, Arkansas, California, New York and Maryland, and raced in every month except April. Swiss Skydiver‘s theme song should be Johnny Cash’s bouncy “I’ve Been Everywhere,” because she has.
“She’s a really tough filly and a really big filly,” trainer Ken McPeek said. “It’s not that she’s long, it’s more that she’s wide. She eats everything, and one time over the winter she weighed 1,145 pounds, which is a lot for a 3-year-old filly at that time of the year.
“I’ve had a lot of good ones over the years, but she’s taken us to another level.”
TVG analyst Simon Bray, a former stakes-winning trainer, thinks her size matters a lot.
“When you’re a big filly like that, it helps take the travel,” Bray said. “She’s kind of a throwback, the type of filly who comes along once in a blue moon.”
Swiss Skydiver beat the boys Oct. 3 in the Preakness, the first filly to do that since Hall of Famer Rachel Alexandra in 2009. McPeek thought about taking on males again in Saturday’s 1 1/4-mile Classic but decided to go in the 1 1/8-mile Distaff instead.
“I really like her at a mile and a quarter, but this might not be the year to try the Classic,” he said. “She’s just 3. I think she does fit in the Classic, but I think the Distaff is an easier race for her, considering the depth of the field.”
Post position: 5
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Trainer: Ken McPeek
Owner: Peter Callahan
Career record: 11-6-3-1
Career earnings: $1,792,980
Top Equibase speed figure: 109
Pedigree: Daredevil-Expo Gold, by Johannesburg
Running style: Stalker
Notes: McPeek is winless with 31 Breeders’ Cup starters, but six second-place finishes and 10 thirds have helped him earn more than $3.3 million in purses. Besides Swiss Skydiver in the Distaff, he will saddle two of the leading contenders in the Juvenile Fillies, Simply Ravishing and Crazy Beautiful . . . Robby Albarado’s first ride on Swiss Skydiver was in the Preakness, where his brilliant move made all the difference. “During the mornings that week at Pimlico, I got to know her and learn all her moves,” he said. “I was very confident she could do whatever I wanted her to. She’s going to clip off 12s [12-second furlongs] whether she’s in front or three or five or 10 lengths behind. I’m not going to force anything.”
|1||Ce Ce||12-1||Michael W. McCarthy||John Velazques|
|2||Harvest Moon||12-1||Simon Callaghan||Flavien Prat|
|3||Dunbar Road||12-1||Chad C. Brown||Jose Ortiz|
|4||Horologist||8-1||William I. Mott||Junior Alvarado|
|5||Swiss Skydiver||2-1||Kenneth G. McPeek||Robby Alvarado|
|6||Lady Kate||15-1||Eddie Kenneally||Tyler Gaffalione|
|7||Point of Honor||30-1||George Weaver||Javier Castellano|
|8||Valiance||12-1||Todd A. Pletcher||Luis Saez|
|9||Ollie’s Candy||10-1||John W. Sadler||Joel Rosario|
|10||Monomoy Girl||8-5||Brad Cox||Florent Geroux|
Ed McNamara is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about thoroughbred racing for 35 years. He has handicapped races for ESPN.com, Newsday and The Record of New Jersey. He is the author of “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” and co-author of “The Most Glorious Crown,” a chronicle of the first 12 Triple Crown champions.