By Nicholas Godfrey
Saratoga: Alabama Stakes G1 $500,000 1m2f, dirt, 3yo fillies
Swiss Skydiver (Kenny McPeek/Tyler Gaffalione)
Swiss Skydiver set up a Kentucky Oaks showdown with superstar filly Gamine in the Kentucky Oaks when she cruised home in the Alabama, Saratoga’s senior race for three-year-old fillies.
Runner-up to leading Kentucky Derby contender Art Collector on her previous start against males, Swiss Skydiver made no mistake as she strolled to a 3½-length victory over a good field of fillies at Saratoga.
Owner Peter Callahan’s daughter of Daredevil could hardly have landed her first G1 success more easily as she finished with her ears pricked, eased right down.
Trainer Kenny McPeek immediately signalled her readiness to take on Gamine, so impressive seven days earlier at the same venue, in the rescheduled Kentucky Oaks on September 4.
“It’s exciting – it’s going to get a lot of attention,” said McPeek. “We don’t have any fear of her. My filly might even have an advantage because Churchill is our base and she’s went two turns repeatedly and hasn’t had any trouble doing that.”
He even mentioned the Preakness Stakes further down the line. “If she could win the Oaks and is still in good order, I think the Preakness would be a great race to win with the filly,” he added.
Kentucky Oaks betting (William Hill): 4-6 Gamine, 5-2 Swiss Skydiver, 7 Speech, 8 Finite, 10 Donna Veloce, 12 Bonny South, Paris Lights, Shedaresthedevil, 20 bar.
Shall we talk about it?
Kenny McPeek (Swiss Skydiver’s trainer): “She’s just really special. Every time we take her over there, she does what you ask her to. She seems to be getting bigger and stronger as the year goes. She’s just a very special filly to be around.”
Tyler Gaffalione (Swiss Skydiver’s jockey): “I felt comfortable the whole way around there. She was just carrying me. She had her mind on business and she knew exactly what she wanted to do today. She put in a big performance. Hopefully we didn’t take too much out of her and she’ll be good to go for the Oaks.”
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