2020 has been a unprecedented and unusual year. And it continued on the racetrack at Pimlico on Preakness Stakes Day. The Saturday, Oct. 3 card was an all-stakes day with 12 races including the $1 million Preakness Stakes. The 3-year-old filly Swiss Skydiver and Kentucky Derby winner Authentic put on a sensational stretch show as the two went stride for stride to the finish more than 9 lengths in front of the field. When Swiss Skydiver held on for victory by a neck, she became just the sixth filly to win the Preakness, of 56 fillies attempting the feat.
Swiss Skydiver Longshot Preakness Winner
The Preakness win was not only historic for the fine filly Swiss Skydiver, becoming a rare Preakness winner, but she did it at odds of 11/1. A $2 win wager returned $25.40. Swiss Skydiver is just the second filly since 1924 to win the Preakness, and the first since Rachel Alexandra in 2009. Swiss Skydiver’s winning time of 1:53.28 was also the fastest Preakness time since Triple Crown winner Secretariat won the Preakness in 1973 in 1:53.00.
“She’s just such a special filly,” said trainer Kenny McPeek, who won the Preakness for the first time. “I feel like we had her well-prepared.”
The last filly to run in the Preakness was last-place finisher Ria Antonia in 2014. Ironically, when Rachel Alexandra won the 2009 Preakness, she was the heavy 9/5 favorite and also beat a Kentucky Derby winner, Mine That Bird (6/1), who finished a hard-charging second.
McPeek turned to jockey Robby Albarado to ride Swiss Skydiver for the first time. Albarado won his second Preakness, having been aboard Curlin in 2007 when he won the race in 1:53.40 – now the third-fastest time since Secretariat’s win.
Longshot winners produced some big payouts Saturday at Pimlico
Only three favorites won races on Saturday’s 12-race card at Pimlico. Swiss Skydiver produced the biggest upset at odds of 11/1, and her win led to a big trifecta payout on the Preakness and a huge 50-cent Late Pick 5 that paid $64,423.
- Race 1 – Selma Stakes – Fluffy Socks (6/1), $14.40.
- Race 7 – Frank De Francis Memorial – Laki (7/1), $16.40
- Race 8 – Laurel Futurity – Catman (10/1), $22.60. A $1 trifecta $419.
- Race 10 – Black Eyed Susan – Miss Marissa (10/1), $22.20.
- Race 11 – Preakness – Swiss Skydiver (11/1), $25.40. A $1 trifecta $1,205.
- Race 12 – UAE President’s Cup – Paddy’s Day (6/1), $15.00. A $1 exacta $105.
Which Breeders’ Cup Race Is Next For Swiss Skydiver?
McPeek said before the Preakness that a win against the boys would greatly enhance Swiss Skydiver’s chances for year-end honors.
“I think if she wins a race like this, you’ve got to include her (as) possible Horse of the Year,” McPeek said. “She’s danced every dance and she’s been hickory and she had entertained the fan base like probably no filly in years. I think it’s a chance to make history.”
Tiz the Law had been the leading 3-year-old in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Poll until Authentic won the Kentucky Derby to take over the top spot ahead of Tiz the Law, Art Collector and Honor A. P. Swiss Skydiver was No. 9 on the list in August and moved up to No. 5 in early September. Now with a Preakness win, McPeek definitely has Swiss Skydiver in position to make history.
Swiss Skydiver has won five times in nine starts in 2020 – all at different race tracks. She also has two runner-up finishes and will race next in the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland Nov. 6-7.
The Preakness win earned Swiss Skydiver automatic entry into the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, a 1 1/4 mile race. That would be her toughest race yet against three highly-rated runners at shorter odds – Improbable, Tiz the Law and Authentic.
When asked Sunday on Thoroughbred Los Angeles radio if Swiss Skydiver would run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic or stay within her division for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff at 1 1/8 miles, McPeek said, “I really like the mile-and-a-quarter, I think that’s a great distance for her. But we’ll look at the competition and try and see where she fits best.”
Owner Peter Callahan has made his early preference to run Swiss Skydiver in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
“Personally, I don’t think I want any part of the Classic,” he said. “It’s way too ambitious, I think.”