Swiss Skydiver to return next year

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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

Preakness winner Swiss Skydiver will race on into 2021 despite her Breeders’ Cup disappointment, owner Peter Callahan has confirmed.

Picked up as a yearling for $35,000 the filly has rewarded her connections by winning five of her ten career starts thus far, tallying $1,761,820 in prize money.

The highlight came in last month’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico where she fought off the Kentucky Derby hero – and subsequent Breeders’ Cup Classic scorer – Authentic to win the Triple Crown race in gutsy fashion.

That set her up for Keeneland this past weekend where a duel with Monomoy Girl was forecast in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. That failed to materialised, the 2018 winner reigning supreme as Swiss Skydiver couldn’t find her best stuff.

Owner Callahan confirmed the news trainer Kenny McPeek will have wanted to hear, suggesting his family won’t allow him to call time on Swiss Skydiver’s racing career just yet.

He insists getting enjoyment from the filly’s efforts on track means more than sending her into the breeding shed at this stage.

“My family, they’d kill me if she was retired,” Callahan said. “The kids don’t care about that [breeding]. They care about having fun, and we did have fun,” the 78-year-old owner said, referring to his three daughters and four granddaughters.

“We converted it [Breeders’ Cup defeat] into an excuses party and we partied hearty. The kids enjoy racing.”

Callahan meanwhile admits that finishing down the field in the Distaff is all part of the racing experience, with good times and bad to be expected.

“I’m OK finishing where we finished at the back of the pack, because there is a life lesson to be learned,” he said. “In this day and age everybody gets a trophy, and that’s nonsense. You’ve got to learn to lose. You’ve got to take disappointment and rejection.”

McPeek suggested the longer trip in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (1m2f) might have been preferable to the 1m1f Distaff. Zenyatta (2009) is the only female winner of the Classic in its 37-year history and Callahan doesn’t rule out taking on the big guns at Del Mar in 12 months.

“We’re not afraid of that,” he said on the possibility of a tilt at the 2021 Classic.

McPeek meanwhile confirmed Swiss Skydiver will enjoy a well-earned break from until New Year, having brought her share of joy in a strange 2020 for all concerned.

“We’re going to give her a little bit of a break right now and ease her back into things after the first of the year,” McPeek said.

“It’s been an amazing year. She’s just been real special to be around. Through all the pandemic and everything, she’s just been a real shining light.”

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