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.”