BALTIMORE, MD – Peter Callahan’s Swiss Skydiver became the sixth filly in history to topple the boys in Saturday’s $1 million Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico.
The Preakness is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Swiss Skydiver receiving an automatic berth in the Longines Classic at Keeneland this November.
Sent away as an 11/1 longshot in the field of 11, Swiss Skydiver sat a close stalking trip inside of Art Collector and Pneumatic while heading under the wire for the first time and into the clubhouse turn.
The 3/2 favorite and Kentucky Derby (G1) champion Authentic dueled with his Bob Baffert stablemate Thousand Words through the early going, posting fractions of :24.48 and :47.65 before Thousand Words gave way.
As one rival dropped off, a new one emerged to challenge Authentic, thanks to a bold move from Albarado to send Swiss Skydiver up the rail heading into the far turn.
Albarado’s early move prevented Authentic from crossing over to the rail and separating from the pack, and as they straightened for home, Swiss Skydiver poked her head in front.
Authentic refused to yield and fought back along her outside, but Swiss Skydiver’s grit and determination prevailed as the filly held on to defeat the heavily-backed Authentic by a neck.
The Kenny McPeek trainee completed the 1 3/16-mile fast dirt route in 1:53.28, the second-fastest in the event’s history behind only Secretariat’s mark of 1:53 that he set in 1973 during his Triple Crown run.
“I had an opportunity, a split second, to take advantage of the rail because (Authentic) was sitting off the fence there,” Albarado said about his decision to move early while riding for the first time. “I made a conscious decision on the backside. ‘It’s give or take now. Do I make that move now or do I wait to see if they come back to me?’ She’s been doing extremely well. Kenny’s been doing a great job.”
Authentic’s defeat marked the first time in six tries that Baffert failed to win the Preakness when entering the Kentucky Derby winner. He remains tied with fellow Hall of Famer Wyndham Walden for most Preakness victories (7) by a trainer.
“I was hoping he was on the lead (at the start), but he got beat,” Baffert said about Authentic’s running style. “He had the whole stretch to get by her. She ran a gallant race. He’s a free-running horse and likes to be on the lead. I saw he wasn’t on the lead and was struggling a little bit.”
Longshot Jesus’ Team rallied to take third by a head over Art Collector, the 2/1 second choice. Max Player and Excession, second-to-last and last early, rallied to finish fifth and sixth, respectively.
Mr. Big News (third in the Kentucky Derby), Thousand Words, Ny Traffic, Pneumatic, and Liveyourbeastlife completed the order of finish.
Swiss Skydiver’s win was the sixth of her career, with each victory coming at a different track, and improved her record to 11-6-3-1. The Daredevil filly, purchased for just $35,000 as a yearling, has now earned $1,792,980.
“I’m just proud of Robby,” McPeek said. “He did a great job. I’m really proud of him, her, Peter Callahan – I wish he was here. This is just a real honor to be around a horse like this. This is a special moment.”
Swiss Skydiver returned $25.40 to win, $8.40 to place, and $5.80 to show. Authentic brought back $3.60 to place and $3.20 to show, while Jesus’ Team paid $12.20 to show.