A heavyweight racing showdown with a Breeders’ Cup feel is all but confirmed for next Saturday at Oaklawn Park, where reigning Eclipse Award winners Monomoy Girl and Swiss Skydiver are on a collision course for the $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1).
Confirmation of the clash may not happen before this weekend, though. Weights will be assigned Saturday to the older fillies and mares nominated to run in the 1 1/16-mile race. Asked if Swiss Skydiver would be entered, owner Peter Callahan texted, “Maybe. Depends on the weights to me.”
Trained by Kenny McPeek, Swiss Skydiver began her racing year March 13 by winning the Beholder Mile (G1) at Santa Anita, where she carried a career-high 124 pounds.
“She met expectations, but you never know,” McPeek said right after the race. “You can’t force anything with her.”
Swiss Skydiver looked more that day like the filly who beat the boys in last year’s Preakness than she did stumbling from the gate on the way to a tiring, seventh-place finish behind Monomoy Girl in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Keeneland. That loss to older rivals did not keep Swiss Skydiver from being voted the champion 3-year-old filly of 2020.
It is certain Monomoy Girl will be assigned the Apple Blossom’s top weight, which has not been more than 123 pounds since 1998. Her career high was 124 – twice. She won them both, including the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
The reigning older-female champion, Monomoy Girl was shipped back last weekend from her Louisiana home base to Arkansas, where she had made her season debut in the slop Feb. 28 by winning the Bayakoa Stakes (G3).
“She’s going to breeze at Oaklawn on
Saturday, prepare for the race on the 17th,” Monomoy Girl’s trainer Brad Cox said
this week in a Horse Racing Nation Barn Tour. “Looking forward to getting her first Grade 1 as a 6-year-old.”
The racing office at Oaklawn reported Friday afternoon that 5-year-old Letruska, runner-up for trainer Fausto Gutierrez in last month’s Azeri Stakes (G2), was the only other probable entrant for the Apple Blossom. Getridofwhatailesu, Cox’s 5-year-old who was third in the Azeri, and Chance to Shine, a 5-year-old who was fourth in the Bayakoa for Chris Hartman, were reported as possible entrants.