McPeek explains Swiss Skydiver Distaff call

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Swiss Skydiver winning at Santa Anita
June 6, 2020; Arcadia, CA, USA; Peter J. Callahan’s Swiss Skydiver and jockey Mike Smith win the Grade II $200,000 Santa Anita Oaks Saturday, June 6, 2020, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, CA. Mandatory Credit: Benoit Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Swiss Skydiver‘s trainer Kenny McPeek has revealed that a field with less depth was more tempting than getting weight in the Breeders’ Cup Classic this weekend for the Preakness heroine.

Swiss Skydiver gamely repelled Kentucky Derby scorer Authentic to win last month’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

In doing so, she became the first filly since Rachel Alexandra in 2009 to land the Triple Crown contest and thrust her name into the Breeders’ Cup Classic mixing pot.

It left McPeek with a decision on his hands; whether or not to go the Classic route over Swiss Skydiver‘s preferred distance of a mile-and-a-quarter or instead opt for the seemingly less competitive Breeders’ Cup Distaff at a mile-and-a-furlong.

McPeek and owner Peter Callahan eventually decided the Distaff was the way to go, after some considerable thought.

“We felt like in this case the Classic had a lot more depth to it, although we were going to get, I think, seven pounds, maybe even more.” McPeek said. “Either seven or nine pounds we were going to get as a weight break as a three-year-old filly, but we didn’t feel like the weight was something that we wanted so much as we wanted a little bit less depth to the field.”

When Swiss Skydiver last ran at Keeneland in the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes back in July, she finished second behind Art Collector.

Since then she has won the Alabama Stakes and the Preakness, both Grade 1s, and finished a fine second in the Kentucky Oaks. Her midsummer setback at Keeneland had more to do with going too fast early on than the track itself, suggests McPeek.

“I think we went too fast early in that race,” he said. “The pace of that race wasn’t, for me, ideal. When I saw how quickly she went the first half mile, I was immediately concerned.”

Swiss Skydiver is around a 5/2 chance to win the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Saturday, with 2018 Distaff winner Monomoy Girl heading the betting at 6/4 for the Brad Cox yard.

McPeek had praise for his rival and is eager to see their stars going head-to-head in what promises to be a Breeders’ Cup thriller.

“I remember (Cox) at a point where he was struggling and he was at Oaklawn, and he and I had a brief talk about the quality of the horses he needs and he needed to get better horses,” McPeek said. “Well, he’s certainly done that, he’s done a heck of a job. It’s going to be a great race.”

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