By Christina Bossinakis
Saturday's GI Apple Blossom H. at Oaklawn Park features a clash between champions Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) and Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil).
Named champion 3-year-old filly off a sparkling 2018 campaign, Monomoy Girl returned from a year and a half on the sidelines to win all four starts in 2020, including Churchill's GI La Troienne S. followed by a successful title defense in the Nov. 7 GI Breeders' Cup Distaff at Keeneland. After realizing $9.5 million from Spendthrift Farm at Fasig-Tipton in November, the 6-year-old mare marked her debut sporting the MyRacehorse silks when taking Oaklawn's GIII Bayakoa S. Feb. 28. The Brad Cox trainee has shown signs of readiness for her step back up to Grade I company with a swift four-furlong breeze in :47.60 at Oaklawn Apr. 11.
Looking to stand in the two-time champion's way is Swiss Skydiver, who enters Saturday's test off a confident victory in the GI Beholder Mile at Santa Anita Mar. 13. Trained by Ken McPeek, the chestnut bagged five graded stakes victories in 2020, highlighted by the GI Alabama S. and the GI Preakness S., when she was seen defeating subsequent sophomore champion colt and Horse of the Year Authentic (Into Mischief). Despite finishing seventh behind Monomoy Girl on Breeders' Cup day, she earned a divisional title for a season that saw her win five of 10 starts while earning over $1.6 million for owner Peter Callaghan. Robbie Albarado, aboard for her three latest starts, returns to the irons Saturday.
Swiss Skydiver arrived at Oaklawn Wednesday afternoon and galloped over a muddy surface after the second renovation break Thursday morning. She has registered three workouts since the Beholder, including a five-furlong move in 1:00.40 at Churchill Downs Apr. 10.
“It's scary,” Albarado said. “She might be better than last year. She's doing so good right now.”
Swiss Skydiver can collect a $60,000 bonus for winning the Apple Blossom for racing Lasix-free.
“She doesn't need it,” McPeek said. “She's never really needed it. We took her off Lasix for her last start because she's going to be running the rest of the year without it, anyway.”