On Saturday at Oaklawn Park, champions will clash when Monomoy Girl and Swiss Skydiver meet in the $1 million, Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap.
In today’s world of Thoroughbred racing, this kind of high profile match-up is usually reserved for the fall in the Breeders’ Cup. The 6-year-old Monomoy Girl is a two-time Eclipse Award winner that has victories in the 2018 and 2020 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). Last year’s 3-year-old champion Swiss Skydiver already has seven wins in her career, including a classic victory against her male counterparts in the Preakness (G1).
Here is a full-field analysis for the Apple Blossom with morning lines odds provided by the Horse Racing Nation staff. The Apple Blossom is carded as race 11 of 12 with post time scheduled for 7:09 p.m. EDT.
1) Another Broad (30-1 – Include – Steve Asmussen / Ricardo Santana Jr. – 24: 4-3-6 - $408,543) This 6-year-old mare has not had a victory since the Top Flight Invitational at Aqueduct in February 2019. At the end of last year, she had a pair of thirds in graded stakes. Most recently, however, she was last in the Bayakoa (G3) beaten by more than 30 lengths by Monomoy Girl. Toss.
2) Swiss Skydiver (6-5 – Daredevil – Ken McPeek / Robbie Albarado – 13: 7-3-1 - $2,025,480) Swiss Skydiver picked up right where she left off last year with another successful trip to the West Coast to win the Beholder Mile (G1) at Santa Anita in a convincing matter. Her six victories in 2020 came at six racetracks and include the Fantasy (G3) in her only start at Oaklawn Park. Her victory in the Preakness (G1), where she defeated eventual Horse of the Year Authentic by a neck, may have been the most noteworthy win by any horse last year. Win contender.
3) Letruska (8-1 – Super Saver – Fausto Gutierrez / Irad Ortiz Jr. – 17: 12-1-1 - $557,319) The former star in Mexico is a multiple graded stakes winner since coming to America at the end of 2019. Typically, Letruska races on the lead, although she rallied from third to finish second in the Azeri (G2) at Oaklawn Park beaten a head by Shedaresthedevil. It is likely that she will set the pace in this six-horse field. Chance for third.
4) Chance to Shine (30-1 – Morning Line – Chris Hartman / Ken Tohill – 18: 7-2-3 - $176,750) This long shot was a winner on the Tapeta surface at Turfway Park back in December in a sprint stakes race. Before that she won a stake on the grass at Turf Paradise. She was fourth in that Bayakoa behind Monomoy Girl. Toss.
5) Getridofwhatailesu (12-1 – Ghostzapper – Brad Cox / Fransciso Arrieta – 8: 4-2-1 - $294,197) This 5-year-old returned to the races at Oaklawn after about nine months off and won a mile stake after a late rally. Brad Cox then moved her to the Azeri and again she came from off the pace, this time to finish third. She always seems to run her race. Use underneath.
6) Monomoy Girl (4-5 – Tapizar – Brad Cox / Florent Geroux – 16: 14-2-0 - $4,576,818) In 16 career races, only once did Monomoy Girl not cross the finish line first and that came in the Golden Rod (G2) as a 2-year-old, when she finished second. Her debut victory of 2021 in the Bayakoa showed her usual stalking trip where, once asked to run, she easily dispatched the competition. Those 14 victories include seven grade ones at four different tracks. Facing Swiss Skydiver will be one of greatest challenges of her career, still it is hard to expect her to do anything but win. Top choice.
Summary: This a marquis match-up of the what might be the two best Thoroughbreds, male or female, currently in training. The resumes of Monomoy Girl and Swiss Skydiver are those of champions. They both appear to be at the top of their games after their victories to kick off 2021 and in their subsequent training. There is nothing in their past performances that can help to pick one of these great horses over the other.
It appears that Letruska will set the pace and that Swiss Skydiver will be not far behind in the early going. After breaking from the outside, Monomoy Girl will sit just to the outside in her usual stalking position. Swiss Skydiver should have the lead in the final turn or the top of the stretch, with Monomoy Girl making the final move. Then it is up to those two champions to battle it out in what should be a great stretch duel.