Peter Callahan’s Grade 1 stakes-winning filly Swiss Skydiver will have veteran jockey Robby Albarado aboard for Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.
Albarado, who won the 2007 Preakness aboard future Hall of Famer Curlin, will replace Tyler Gaffalione on the millionaire filly.
When she goes to the gate at Pimlico Race Course, Swiss Skydiver will be the 55th female to run in the Preakness. The most recent of the five filly winners of Maryland’s Triple Crown classic was Rachel Alexandra in 2009. Her success against males in Baltimore helped her capture the 3-year-old filly title and the Horse of the Year Award.
Trainer Kenny McPeek had talked about the 1 3/16-mile Preakness as a possibility for Swiss Skydiver since the summer and decided to send her against males for a second time when she worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 at Churchill Downs Saturday morning. In June, the chestnut daughter of Daredevil won the Santa Anita Oaks (G2), her third straight victory. In her first attempt against males, she ended up second to Preakness prospect Art Collector in the July 11 Blue Grass Stakes (G2). On Aug. 15 at Saratoga, she won as she pleased in the 1 1/4-mile Alabama (G1). Three weeks later, she was second in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).
“I know she will make the distance without any problem,” McPeek said. “I think she will like that racetrack. Of course, she has raced everywhere. Whatever racetrack she has raced over, she has handled great. It was a tough call between racing against straight 3-year-olds or older fillies and mares or turf, which was briefly thought about. I think she will handle it fine.
“My preference would have been if they wrote a race back like the Alabama back for this week. But that doesn’t exist. There are no 3-year-old filly Grade 1s. She gets a little bit of weight off, and she’s continuing to do good,” he added.
A victory against the boys would greatly enhance Swiss Skydiver’s quest for year-end honors.
“I think if she wins a race like this you’ve got to include her 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.”
The other dirt option for McPeek prior to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Keeneland on Nov. 7 was the Spinster (G1) on Oct. 4, also at Keeneland.
Preakness entries will be taken Monday. Swiss Skydiver will ship to Maryland from Kentucky on Tuesday.
“It will be interesting to see where she draws,” McPeek said. “I think she runs better from the outside, and I think drawing the one-hole cost her the Oaks. I think she got pinned down in there, and if my rider had stayed inside he probably would have won. But he went around. Hindsight is 20/20. It is what it is.”