SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Peter Callahan’s Swiss Skydiver left no doubt regarding her superiority in the 3-year-old filly division after easily breezing home to win Saturday’s $500,000 Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.
The Alabama is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Swiss Skydiver receiving an automatic berth in the Longines Distaff at Keeneland this November.
The Alabama is also the final event of the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Swiss Skydiver earned 100 points for the win, with Bonny South receiving 40 for second, Harvey’s Lil Goil 20 for third, and Envoutante 10 for fourth.
Swiss Skydiver was the even-money favorite as she broke from post 5 under Tyler Gaffalione, then settled comfortably just behind Crystal Ball heading into the clubhouse turn.
Crystal Ball posted opening fractions of :23.55, :47.91, and 1:12.27 but began to weaken heading into the far turn. Swiss Skydiver swept past in hand and straightened for home with an insurmountable lead.
With Gaffalione doing his best statue imitation, Swiss Skydiver was geared down in the final 1/16 of a mile before strolling across the wire 3 1/2 lengths the best.
The Kenny McPeek trainee completed the 1 1/4-mile fast dirt route in a final time of 2:03.04.
“I felt comfortable the whole way around there,” Gaffalione said. “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.”
Bonny South waited until the right time to rally from off the pace and pass tiring foes in the stretch to take second over Harvey’s Lil Goil, who made a big move in the far turn but failed to sustain her bid.
Fourth went to the second McPeek entry Envoutante, well ahead of the rest of the field, which came across as Crystal Ball, Spice Is Nice, and Fire Coral to complete the order of finish.
Swiss Skydiver has now earned $952,980 and the win improved her overall record to 9-5-2-1, a line made more impressive by the fact that she has run at 8 different tracks in that span. Despite her dominating effort, however, McPeek seems keen on running the 3-year-old Daredevil daughter against the fillies in the Oaks, rather than facing males in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be Oaks,” McPeek said regarding her next start. “Peter and I will sit down and talk about it, but we’re leaning pretty hard to the Oaks. Tiz the Law’s race here last week (the Travers Stakes [G1]) was ultra-impressive, and if you hold the two against each other, I’m not sure we want to be up against him yet.”
Swiss Skydiver returned $4.30 to win, $3.10 to place, and $2.50 to show. Bonny South brought back $6.30 to place and $4 to show, while Harvey’s Lil Goil paid $3.60 to show.