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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.”

Authentic to race from stall nine in Preakness

Kentucky Derby winner Authentic has been allotted stall nine of the 11 runners for the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

The Bob Baffert-trained colt, ridden by John Velazquez, will bid to follow up his Churchill Downs success – having lowered the colours of Belmont Stakes scorer Tiz The Law there.

Authentic pleased connections in his final serious exercise at Churchill Downs on Monday morning, with jockey Martin Garcia aboard. He worked four furlongs in 47.60 seconds, and completed the six-furlong gallop in one minute 13.40 seconds.

“He’s such an amazing horse,” said Garcia.

“He worked awesome. I’ve worked a lot of nice horses for trainer Bob Baffert in California, and this horse is just as special. He’s doing amazing for the Preakness.”

Authentic is scheduled to fly from Louisville to Baltimore on Tuesday, along with other Preakness contenders.

Baffert also has Thousand Words, who was a late withdrawal from the Kentucky Derby. He will be in gate five on Saturday.

Also among Authentic’s rivals are Bret Calhoun’s Mr Big News, who was beaten three and a quarter lengths in third place in the Kentucky Derby. He has drawn gate two.

Art Collector, trained by Thomas Drury Jnr, has gate three. He missed the Kentucky Derby because of a foot problem.

Belmont Stakes third and Kentucky Derby fifth Max Player, trained by Steve Asmussen, is in gate eight – while stablemate Pneumatic, who was fourth in the Belmont, is in 10.

The filly Swiss Skydiver, trained by Kenneth McPeek, will start from stall four.