ARCADIA, Calif.—Mission accomplished. Idle since a disappointing run in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Distaff Nov. 7, trainer Ken McPeek’s reigning Eclipse Champion Filly Swiss Skydiver saved ground early and went on to register a powerful 2 ¾ length victory in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Beholder Mile at Santa Anita. Ridden by Robby Albarado, the 4-year-old filly by Daredevil got the distance in 1:36.18 as she cruised to the wire with her ears pricked.
With Bob Baffert’s Golden Principal hustled to the lead from her number two post position, Swiss Skydiver, breaking from the rail, was attentive to the pace while fourth, just 2 ½ length off the lead around the Club House turn. Third at the rail, two lengths off of Golden Principal mid-way around the turn, Swiss Skydiver angled three-wide turning for home and surged to the lead approaching the furlong pole as she went on to a very impressive win.
“Being on the inside, circumstances dictate that you need to get away clean to get some kind of a forward position,” said Albarado, who has now ridden her in her last three races, including a sensational neck victory over eventual Horse of the Year Authentic in the Grade I Preakness Stakes Oct. 3. “I knew we had speed in the race but if I could get her in position, get her to clip off twelves every eighth (of a mile), she comes home pretty fast.
“Pretty much up the backside, every point I felt like she was right there with me the whole way. She was taking deep breaths around there. When I finally gave her some room there she took off. It was all her, I was just a passenger…I look forward for the rest of the year with her.”
A winner of last year’s Grade II Santa Anita Oaks in June, Swiss Skydiver went on to win a pair of Grade I races and a total of total of five graded stakes on the year. Off at 7-5 in a field of seven older fillies and mares today, she paid $4.80, $2.60 and $2.20.
“Yes, she met expectations, but you never know,” said McPeek, who has been at Santa Anita since Swiss Skydiver shipped in from her Gulfstream Park base on Tuesday. “The distance for me was a little bit of a worry because of the run to the first turn. But Robby does know her so well, to get her in 12s, just get her into a nice rhythm and let her make her run. You can’t force anything with her, and if you go too fast early, she will wilt a little bit.
“She cruises through everything, even when she gallops. The feed tub’s the biggest deal with her. I’ve never had a horse, colt or filly, eat like she does. It just makes my job so much easier.”
When asked where Swiss Skydiver, who ran at nine different tracks in 10 races last year, might make her next start, McPeek responded: “Maybe the Apple Blossom (Grade I, 1 1/16 mile at Oaklawn Park April 17), maybe the La Troienne (Grade I, 1 1/16 mile at Churchill Downs April 30), one of those two…She’s just really good, maybe we’ll go hunt Monomoy Girl (2020 Eclipse Champion Older Dirt Female) now, we’ll see.”
Purchased for $35,000 as a Keeneland September Yearling and owned by Peter J. Callahan, Swiss Skydiver, who is out of the More Than Ready mre Expo Gold, now has three Grade I wins, and an overall mark of 13-7-3-1. With the Beholder winner’s share of $180,000, she increased her earnings to $2,025,480.
Ridden by Mike Smith, As Time Goes By rallied five-wide turning for home and bested her stablemate Golden Principal by 1 ¾ lengths while never threatening the winner. The second choice in the wagering at 9-5, As Time Goes By paid $3.40 and $2.80.
Ridden by Juan Hernandez, Golden Principal did the heavy lifting early and tired late, but finished 2 ½ lengths clear of Harvest Moon. Off at 7-1, Golden Principal paid $3.40 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.14, 46.80, 1:11.19 and 1:23.54.
Beholder Mile Replay
Photo: Swiss Skydiver (Benoit)