By Jon Lees
USA: Hot off a big-race victory at Oaklawn Park on Friday, trainer Ken McPeek is considering an audacious transatlantic bid for the Qipco 1,000 Guineas with Swiss Skydiver.
Despite the logistical issues such a trip may pose owing to the coronavirus pandemic, McPeek said he is set to examine the possibilities of running at Newmarket after the filly’s triumph in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes.
“I reached out to Adrian Beaumont [of the International Racing Bureau] this morning and I’ve given him the go-ahead to make the nomination,” said McPeek. “I’ve spoken to the owner Peter Callahan and he is open to it.
“It’s interesting because the timing is good and there is nothing on the calendar here in the US. It’s a one-off. We will make the entry, see what it looks like and go from there.
“Adrian will look into it all. I would probably send the horse and not send any staff.”
Swiss Skydiver defeated Kentucky Oaks favourite Venetian Harbour in Friday’s G3 contest – said to be a G1-calibre event by rival trainer Brad Cox – to bring her record to three wins from six starts, having won the Gulfstream Park Oaks on her previous start. The Kentucky Oaks has been postponed until September.
The 1,000 Guineas has been rescheduled for June 6 under plans for a resumption of racing in Britain, if there is government support for the sport to take place behind closed doors.
McPeek was one of the original US pioneers, coming close to pulling off an upset victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 2004 when 33-1 chance Hard Buck finished second to Doyen.
But his last two visits were blighted by disaster. In 2014 Rosalind stumbled coming out of the stalls in the 2014 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and unshipped Kieren Fallon after a few strides.
But even she got further than Daddys Lil Darling, who having flown over to contest the Oaks in 2017, had to be withdrawn from the race after bolting to the start during a thunderstorm and dislodging jockey Olivier Peslier before a Classic won by Enable.
“Racing is a game of failure,” McPeek said. “What are you going to do? You don’t quit because you lost or things didn’t go your way. You learn from the experience and you come back better prepared for next time.”
Although Swiss Skydiver would be running on turf for the first time and over a straight mile, she would get to Newmarket having already had four races in 2020.
“She is a fast filly,” said McPeek. “She has a world of talent. We may have an advantage because a lot of the horses haven’t been running as it’s probably going to be the first race of the season for all the competition.
“When you’ve got a really good horse you should relish the opportunity and not be scared of the challenge.”