McPeek bargain buy Swiss Skydiver steals Gulfstream Oaks

McPeek bargain buy Swiss Skydiver steals Gulfstream Oaks
Photo: Lauren King/Gulfstream Park

Pace made the race in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks as Swiss Skydiver, under a clever ride by jockey Paco Lopez, left a number of more accomplished rivals in her kickback.

Allowed to open up under no pressure in 24.33 seconds for the quarter mile, she then idled through a 49.12 half. All alone at the top of the stretch, the daughter of Daredevil — known more for his one-turn prowess — went on to score a 9-1 upset.

“It looked like to me that nobody went," said winning trainer Kenny McPeek. "They kind of gave her away, and shame on them. I didn’t have any doubts she’d get the distance. I think she’s just going to get better with age.”

McPeek conditions Swiss Skydiver for Peter Callahan. Similar to many of McPeek’s graded winners, this one was a bargain purchase fetched for $35,000 as a yearling.

Swiss Skydiver made this her second career victory in five starts. She won on debut last November at Churchill Downs, finished second in allowance company and jumped to stakes from there, running fifth in Tampa Bay Downs Gasparilla and third in Fair Grounds’ Rachel Alexandra (G2).

“We’ve had a really hard time getting this filly to two turns," McPeek said. "It always seemed like the timing was off on everything. We finally got her in the Rachel Alexandra in New Orleans, where she hooked a couple of really tough ones, and she needed the experience. We were almost five weeks in between races and this was real good timing. She’d been in Florida a while already, so she was real prepared for this.”

Behind her, the Gasparilla winner Lucrezia ran second by 3 1/4 lengths. Lake Avenue was third and Bajan Girl ran fourth in the Gulfstream Park Oaks, a 100-40-20-10 points prep for the Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks.

Absent from the board was Tonalist’s Shape, previously undefeated, who took an outside trip but never factored.

Swiss Skydiver finished up 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.54.

“Paco is what I’d call a lead-forward type of jock," McPeek said. "We jumped her out of the gate a few times to get her to leave there a little quicker. That’s kind of his natural style, so I pretty much left it to him. I definitely didn’t (want) to take her back over that racetrack."

The only other Kentucky Oaks prep left on the calendar is Oaklawn's Fantasy (G3), a $400,000 race on May 1 at Oaklawn Park. Similar to with the Kentucky Derby trail, Churchill Downs figures to announce new preps for the Oaks this summer.

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