Robbie Albarado on Swiss Skydiver, Oct. 24 at Churchill Downs
Swiss Skydiver, Eclipse Award champion three-year-old filly of 2020, makes her four-year-old debut Saturday at Santa Anita in the Grade 1 Beholder Mile
Owned by Peter Callahan and bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, the daughter of Daredevil upset Kentucky Derby winner and Horse of the Year Authentic at 11-1 in last year’s Preakness Stakes before an eventful seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Keeneland last Nov. 7, her most recent race.
“There were limited options where we are,” trainer Ken McPeek said in explaining a coast-to-coast trip from Florida to start her campaign.
“There really wasn’t an older filly and mare stake in Florida and I’ve got my other filly, Envoutante, at Oaklawn (for Saturday’s Grade 2 Azeri Stakes). I didn’t want to run against each other.”
Envoutante, handy six-length winner of the Grade 2 Falls City at Churchill Downs in her most recent start last Nov. 26, also was nominated to the Beholder. Like Swiss Skydiver in the Beholder, Envoutante (“bewitching” in English) also drew the rail in the Azeri, where she is 5-2 on the morning line vs. four rivals.
“Obviously the Beholder is a great race and I think Swiss Skydiver is capable of running a flat mile,” McPeek said. “She’s really sharp now, so that’s good, and the timing works out well.”
Robby Albarado, who piloted Swiss Skydiver to her Preakness victory, arrived in California Tuesday to ride the chestnut filly in the Beholder, while McPeek got in town Thursday. Swiss Skydiver arrived Tuesday night.
With an Eclipse Award, two Grade I victories including the Alabama Stakes along with the Preakness, a four-length romp in the Santa Anita Oaks and five graded stakes wins on her resume last year, Swiss Skydiver exceeded McPeek’s expectations.
“In her first stakes race last year (fifth in a restricted outing at Tampa Bay Downs Jan. 18) she kind of had a troubled trip (going five-wide and floating out while beaten less than a length at seven furlongs), but since then she rolled on.
“It was unfortunate she stumbled (at the start) in the Breeders’ Cup (finishing seventh behind Older Dirt Female champion Monomoy Girl) and cut her leg up pretty good.
“But she bounced back from that. It was a magical season for the most part.
“Hopefully, we can come half that close this year.”
The Beholder, race eight of nine with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Swiss Skydiver, Robby Albarado, 8-5; Golden Principal, Juan Hernandez, 8-1; Harvest Moon, Flavien Prat, 5-2; Sanenus, Umberto Rispoli, 4-1; Miss Stormy D, Tyler Baze, 20-1; As Time Goes By, Mike Smith, 4-1; This Tea, Abel Cedillo, 30-1; and Clockstrikestwelve, Tiago Pereira, 20-1.
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