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Swiss Skydiver team mulling Breeders’ Cup options

Connections of Swiss Skydiver have yet to make a decision on which race the filly will tackle at the Breeders’ Cup meeting.

The three-year-old was last seen when beating Kentucky Derby winner Authentic in the Preakness earlier this month, with the Pimlico Classic forming the last leg of the Triple Crown in this Covid-19 affected season.

That win qualified Swiss Skydiver for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, while her victory in the Grade One Alabama Stakes at Saratoga back in August guaranteed her place in the Distaff field, leaving trainer Kenny McPeek and owner Peter Callahan in a quandary as to her Keeneland target.

McPeek said: “I believe she’s the only horse to have ‘win and you’re in’ for both races, I’m not sure any other horse has done that, so we took advantage of the fact she’s able to pre-enter in both without any fees.

“We figured we’d take a look, see what the Classic looked like. We’ve not had an opportunity to sit down and study the past performances yet, but we’re going to do that in the next 24 or 48 hours and get clarity on what direction we’re going.

“I really like her at a mile and a quarter would be the pro for the Classic, but I also know it’s a deeper race on paper. I think another pro would be she’d get a bit of weight off in the Classic as well, so that’s another reason to go in that direction.

“Monomoy Girl will definitely be the horse to beat in the Distaff, we know that. If we can step up our game, she’s a top filly and you wouldn’t think that race is going to be easy either, but it’s not supposed to be.

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“We’ve got to study it and we’ll come to a conclusion soon,” he told a Breeders’ Cup teleconference.

Authentic is one of three entries for Bob Baffert in the Classic, along with Improbable and Maximum Security.

Improbable has won his last three starts – all at Grade One level – most recently dishing out a four-and-a-half-length beating to stablemate Maximum Security in last month’s Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita.

Baffert said: “They will all breeze one more time this weekend and then they ship out early morning on Tuesday and I think they arrive there by noon.”

Kentucky Derby second Tiz The Law could reoppose in the Classic with Tom’s D’Etat another leading candidate following the pre-entry stage.

The Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf is dominated by European-trained runners with Aidan O’Brien’s pair of Magical and Mogul leading the way.

John Gosden has Lord North entered along with Mehdaayih, while stablemate Terrebellum is due to tackle Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf.

The Dermot Weld-trained Tarnawa is in the Filly & Mare field too along with O’Brien’s Peaceful, the James Fanshawe-trained Audarya and Jessica Harrington’s Cayenne Pepper.

Kameko and Siskin, winners of the English and Irish 2000 Guineas, are set to clash again in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Ger Lyons’ Siskin finished a place ahead of the Andrew Balding-trained Kameko when third and fourth respectively in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, while O’Brien’s Circus Maximus was second that day and is also set to re-oppose.

The 14 runners include William Haggas’ three-times Foret winner One Master and John Quinn’s Safe Voyage while Uni and Raging Bull head the home-trained hopes at this stage.

Kevin Ryan’s Glass Slippers is the only British runner in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, with Charlie Hills’ Equilateral not in the field as it stands.

The meeting kicks off on Friday, November 6 with juvenile heats to the fore and a strong British and Irish contingent is in prospect.

Ralph Beckett’s pair of New Mandate and Devilwala are set to join the Michael Bell-trained The Lir Jet in the Juvenile Turf, in which O’Brien’s Battleground and Harrington’s Cadillac are also entered.

Wesley Ward’s Prix Morny winner Campanelle is the headline horse in the Juvenile Fillies Turf Turf Sprint, with Ken Condon’s Miss Amulet, Mother Earth for O’Brien and Roger Varian’s Nazuna also in the field.

O’Brien’s Lippizaner is in the reckoning alongside Mighty Gurkha from Archie Watson’s yard and Ubettabelieveit for Nigel Tinkler in the Juvenile Turf Sprint.

Swiss Skydiver edges out Authentic to win Preakness

Swiss Skydiver won a titanic duel with favourite Authentic to seal Preakness Stakes glory at Pimlico.

Barely a head separated winner and runner-up at the line as 9-1 shot Swiss Skydiver held on with great determination to see off a renewed challenge from the Kentucky Derby hero – clear of 66-1 outsider Jesus’ Team, in third.

She therefore became the sixth filly, and first since Rachel Alexandra in 2009, to win the Grade One – run this year as the third leg of the US Triple Crown.

For jockey Robby Albarado, it was a second Preakness success, while trainer Kenny McPeek was winning it for the first time.

McPeek described Albarado’s decision to sweep past Bob Baffert’s 6-4 favourite into the lead and bag the rail before the home turn as a “genius move” – and it was one which paid off as Swiss Skydiver eventually just denied the rallying Authentic.

The winning trainer told NBC: “I’m just really proud of Robby – we had to call him into the game at the last minute.

“He did a great job, and I’m really proud of her and him. It’s just a real honour to be around a horse like this – it’s a special moment.”

Albarado was riding Swiss Skydiver for the first time – in place of Tyler Gaffalione, who was on board when she was second in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs last month.

McPeek added:  “It was a genius move by Robby, coming up the fence.

“He saw a hole, and he went right at it. Well, it looked to me like she took him there.

“I think she should have won the Oaks – maybe if she’d stayed inside, Oaks day, we’d win that one too.

“But it is what it is, and she’s just really neat to be around. This is a lifetime experience for both of us [trainer and jockey], and we hope we’re back.

Explaining his mid-race manoeuvre, Albarado said: “(I thought) make that move now, or wait and you’re smothered.

“(But) she knows where she’s at.”