Swiss Skydiver's Preakness

She beats Kentucky Derby winner Authentic to become the sixth filly to capture the Grade 1 classic

Swiss Skydiver held off Authentic in a thrilling finish yesterday morning (Singapore time) to become the sixth filly to win the 145th Preakness Stakes in a dramatic end to a topsy-turvy Triple Crown year.

Trained by Kenny McPeek and ridden by Robby Albarado, Swiss Skydiver grabbed the lead as they headed into the final turn. She then held off a fierce challenge from the Kentucky Derby, whose trainer Bob Baffert was denied a record eighth Preakness win.

"She's just such a special filly," McPeek said of the determined chestnut filly that romped to victory in the Alabama Stakes, before running second in the Kentucky Oaks.

He said he knew some questioned his decision to put Swiss Skydiver up against the colts in the 1,900m Preakness at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland.

But she justified his faith, becoming the first filly since Rachel Alexandra in 2009 to win. She was the first filly to run in the Preakness since Ria Antonia finished last in 2014.

"She continues to get stronger and it's amazing," McPeek said.

"I've been doing this for 35 years and you're around horses and sometimes you run them and they come back tired. She never gets tired. If anything, she makes me tired dragging me around the barn every day."

The Baffert-trained Thousand Words and Authentic, ridden by Johnny Velazquez, dueled for the lead early. But Albarado slipped Swiss Skydiver past them as they were turning for home.

"I had an opportunity," Albarado said.

"I took advantage of the rail. Johnny stayed off the fence there, made a conscious decision to move at that time. Give or take now. If I make that move now or I wait and get smothered."

Swiss Skydiver, who went off at odds of 11-1, held her ground, as the two thundered away from the rest of the field down the stretch, finally getting her nose across the wire first.

Jesus' Team, a 40-1 longshot trained by Jose D'Angelo and ridden by Jevian Toledo, was a distant third.

Pimlico, which usually features a raucous crowd of 100,000, was virtually empty, with just owners, trainers and workers in attendance amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

C ovid-19 had already turned the Triple Crown, which normally starts with the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May, upside down with the Belmont Stakes opening the action on June 20 and the Kentucky Derby held last month. - AFP