A week after GI Kentucky Oaks contender Gamine (Into Mischief) romped home in the GI Test S., fellow sophomore filly standout Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil) produced a jaw-dropping victory of her own with an effortless victory in the GI Alabama S.–a Win and You're In race for the GI Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff–Saturday at Saratoga.
“She's just really special,” said winning trainer Ken McPeek. “Every time we take here over there, she does what you ask her to. She seems to be getting bigger and stronger as the year goes. She's just a very special filly to be around. I'm so happy for [owner] Peter Callahan. He's given me opportunities to buy his horses for him for years now and this one makes up for a lot of average ones I've bought.”
Swiss Skydiver, the even-money favorite while coming off a gallant runner-up effort against the boys in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S., tracked Crystal Ball (Malibu Moon) around the first turn and was just a half-length back as that filly completed the quarter-mile in :23.55 and the half in :47.91. Swiss Skydiver inhaled the pacesetter midway on the far turn and quickly opened a clear advantage as Harvey's Lil Goil (American Pharoah) looked the main danger while making a three-wide move from the back of the pack. But Swiss Skydiver was just toying with her foes, opening up by as many six lengths before Tyler Gaffalione geared her down late to canter under the wire 3 1/2 lengths in front of Bonny South (Munnings), who came on late to best Harvey's Lil Goil for second.
“I felt comfortable the whole way around there,” Gaffalione said. “She was just carrying me. She had her mind on business and she knew exactly what she wanted to do today. She put in a big performance. Hopefully we didn't take too much out of her and she'll be good to go for the Oaks.
Gaffalione continued, “I figured Javier [Castellano] would go with Crystal Ball. She was pretty hard-sent last time and ran well from that forward position. I broke well, but Javier was chasing after his filly, so I didn't want to get in a speed duel. My filly came back to me nicely and she settled great. I was slowing her down around the turn just to stay with that filly. I didn't want to take too much away from her. I just let her out a notch and she did the rest on her own.”
On behalf of Peter Callahan, McPeek purchased Swiss Skydiver for $35,000 at the 2018 Keeneland September sale. The filly was a first-out winner at Churchill Downs the following November and first announced her arrival on the big stage with a front-running 3 1/4-length victory in the Mar. 28 GII Gulfstream Park Oaks. She bettered Oaks hopefuls Venetian Harbor (Munnings) and Shedaresthedevil (Daredevil) by 2 1/2 lengths in the May 1 GIII Fantasy S. and was a dominant four-length winner of the June 6 GII Santa Anita Oaks. Tackling the boys with an eye towards a possible GI Kentucky Derby tilt, Swiss Skydiver found only Art Collector (Bernardini) too good after setting the pace at Keeneland in the Blue Grass. While that effort earned her enough points to enter the Derby, McPeek said the Oaks was the more likely target for the filly.
“I'm pretty sure it's going to be the Oaks,” McPeek said. “Peter and I will sit down and talk about it, but we're leaning pretty hard to the Oaks. Tiz the Law (Constitution)'s race here last week [winning the GI Runhappy Travers S.] was ultra-impressive and if you hold the two against each other, I'm not sure we want to be up against him yet.”
Of a potential Oaks match-up with Gamine, McPeek said, “It's exciting. It's going to get a lot of attention. We don't have any fear of her. My filly might even have an advantage because Churchill is our base and she's gone two turns repeatedly and hasn't had any trouble doing that.”
Expo Gold, carrying a full-brother to Swiss Skydiver, sold for $13,000 at the 2017 Keeneland November sale. In foal to Danzing Candy, she sold for $15,000 at the 2019 CTBA January sale. Her Daredevil colt sold for $4,000 at last year's Keeneland September sale. The mare produced a colt by Danzing Candy in 2019 and, with no reported foal this year, was bred back to Catholic Boy.
Swiss Skydiver is the first Grade I winner for Daredevil, winner of the 2014 GI Champagne S. The stallion, who has been exported to Turkey, has two graded stakes winners and four stakes winners. In addition to the Alabama winner, Daredevil is also represented by GI Kentucky Oaks contender Shedaresthedevil, winner of this year's GIII Honeybee S. and GIII Indiana Oaks.
ALABAMA S.-GI, $500,000, Saratoga, 8-15, 3yo, f, 1 1/4m, 2:03.04, ft.
1–SWISS SKYDIVER, 121, f, 3, by Daredevil
1st Dam: Expo Gold, by Johannesburg
2nd Dam: Clouds of Gold, by Strike the Gold
3rd Dam: Cloudy Colors, by Personal Flag
1ST GRADE I WIN. ($35,000 Ylg '18 KEESEP). O-Peter J.
Callahan; B-WinStar Farm, LLC (KY); T-Kenneth G. McPeek;
J-Tyler Gaffalione. $275,000. Lifetime Record: 9-5-2-1,
$952,980. *1/2 to Miss Hot Legs (Verrazano), SP, $151,620.
Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Bonny South, 121, f, 3, by Munnings&log=">Munnings
1st Dam: Touch the Star, by Tapit
2nd Dam: Willstar, by Nureyev
3rd Dam: Nijinsky Star, by Nijinsky II
O/B-Juddmonte Farms Inc (KY); T-Brad H. Cox. $100,000.
3–Harvey's Lil Goil, 121, f, 3, by American Pharoah
1st Dam: Gloria S, by Tapit
2nd Dam: Arch's Gal Edith, by Arch
3rd Dam: Force Five Gal, by Pleasant Tap
O-Estate of Harvey A. Clarke & Paul Braverman; B-Harvey A.
Clarke (KY); T-William I. Mott. $60,000.
Margins: 3HF, 1HF, 5 3/4. Odds: 1.15, 10.60, 5.30.
Also Ran: Envoutante, Crystal Ball, Spice Is Nice, Fire Coral.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.