By Bill Finley
The filly Swiss Skydiver (Daredevil) will be out to make history Saturday when she takes on males in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. at Keeneland. No filly has ever won the prestigious race.
Trainer Kenny McPeek had nominated Swiss Skydiver for both the Blue Grass and the GI Ashland S. for fillies. He waited until Wednesday morning, shortly before the draw, to make his decision. He said a major factor was that he has another filly for the Ashland in Envoutante (Uncle Mo).
“In any other year, this would have been an easier decision, but I have Envoutante running in the Ashland and I think she has a big chance there,” he said. “I hate running entries where you know you are going to beat yourself with one or the other. [Owner] Peter Callahan is as game as Dick Tracy and I am too. I do think it will be fun. If she can jump through this hoop great. If she can’t, we will backtrack and go to the [GI] Alabama or just wait for the [GI] Kentucky Oaks.”
Envoutante, who is owned by Walking L Thoroughbreds, LLC and Three Chimneys Farm, won an allowance race at Churchill in her last start.
Another factor McPeek considered was the weights.
“I like the fact she is getting a pretty good weight break,” he said. “She’ll carry 118 and gets six pounds off her last race. Some of the colts will pick up weight off their last races. How much difference does that make, it’s hard to say? She’s a big filly. She weighs 1,100 pounds. The weights are an edge and that’s why it is there.”
McPeek also found a year in which the Blue Grass did not come up with a stellar field. Repositioned to the summer because Keeneland had to cancel its spring meet due to the coronavirus, the Blue Grass is sandwiched among a number of stakes for 3-year-olds, all of them vying for the top talent
“A lot of the colts in this race are big question marks,” McPeek said. “It’s questionable if they want to go that far or whether they want to race at that level. The fillies that are running in the Ashland are good filles. Envoutante is not a stakes winner, but she’s a good filly in her own right. None of the colts in the Blue Grass have won a graded race this year. [Swiss Skydiver] has proven herself in her last three starts. It would be pretty cool to win the Blue Grass with a filly.”
The Blue Grass purse is $600,000. The Ashland purse is $400,000.
A Blue Grass victory would give Swiss Skydiver enough points to make it into the field for the GI Kentucky Derby. She is nominated to the Triple Crown. When asked if a Blue Grass win would mean a Derby start for Swiss Skydiver, McPeek replied: “It might. I know if she can’t win this then she’s not a Derby horse. A loss would answer that question.”
Only one other filly has started in the Blue Grass. Coming off a win in the Ashland, Harriet Sue ran fifth in the 1944 Blue Grass.