Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Authentic and Florida-Tied Swiss Skydiver Head 11-Horse Field for Saturday's Preakness

 HRFLA Staff Report

The Kentucky Derby winner Authentic and the star filly Swiss Skydiver  are among eleven horses entered for Saturday's $1 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore.

Entries were drawn on Monday for the Preakness, at 1 3/16 miles on dirt for 3-year-olds. It is the 11th race on Pimlico's Saturday card. Scheduled post is 5:45 p.m., and it will be telecast live on NBC's network stations.

Swiss Skydiver will attempt to become the first filly to win the Preakness since the great Rachel Alexandra in 2009.

This year, Swiss Skydiver has won four graded stakes that were restricted to fillies.  The first of those was the 1 1/16 mile Gulfstream Park Oaks (Grade 2) at Gulfstream on March 28.

She is owned by Peter Callahan, who lives in Palm Beach County, and is trained by Ken McPeek, a regular at Gulfstream during its annual championship meet.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Preakness is third rather than second in order this year for the Triple Crown races--all of which are Grade 1.

Authentic drew post nine and was made the 9-5 morning line favorite by Pimlico linemakers. 

Tiz the Law, who was the betting favorite in the Kentucky Derby and finished second by 1 1/4 lengths, is  not in the Preakness. Trainer Barclay Tagg plans to race him next in the Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 7 at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.

Art Collector is in post three and is second in the morning line at 5-2.  He missed the Kentucky Derby due to a foot injury.

Art Collector's record this year includes a win in the 1 1/8 mile Blue Grass Stakes (Grade 2) at Keeneland on July 11. Swiss Skydiver finished second by  3 1/2 lengths in that race, as the only filly in a 13-horse field.

Swiss Skydiver and Thousand Words, both at 6-1, are the only other horses lower than 10-1 in the morning line.

Thousand Words fell in the walking ring prior to the Kentucky Derby  on Sept. 5, and was scratched from the race. He has won two stakes races this year, both at 1 1/16 miles at tracks in California.

Bob Baffert trains Thousand Words and Authentic.

The list of entries is below--by post positions, morning line odds, trainers.

Florida Horses

Swiss Skydiver is one of four Preakness entrants that this year raced in Florida at Gulfstream and/or at Tampa Bay Downs.

The others are Ny Traffic, Jesus' Team and Liveyourbeastlife.

Ny Traffic finished second in four graded stakes this  year. He went off at12-1in the Kentucky Derby and was in second place after a half mile before dropping back and finishing eighth.

Some of Ny Traffic's backers are hoping he will not be as close to the front in the Preakness, where it is expected that Art Collector will contest Authentic for the lead.

On July 18, Ny Traffic finished second by  a nose to Authentic after a duel in deep stretch in the 1 1/8 mile Haskell (Grade 1) at Monmouth Park  in Oceanport, N.J.

Liveyourbeastlife and Jesus' Team finished second and third, respectively, in a six-horse field in the Jim Dandy (Grade 2) at Saratoga on Sept. 5.

Liveyourfbeastlife raced three times at Gulfstream this year. All were in $75,000 optional claiming races, with no finishes higher than fourth.

Jesus' Team raced five times (none in stakes)  at Gulfstream this year, with wins in a maiden claiming race and in a $25,000 claiming race.

Both have shown improvement in recent months. But both will no doubt be major longshots against their  more accomplished Preakness rivals.

Pre-Preakness Analysis

Keys to the race could be the absence of Tiz the Law and the presence of Swiss Skydiver.

Tiz the Law this year won the Florida Derby at Gulfstream, the Belmont Stakes and the Travers at Saratoga.  All three are Grade 1 races. 

Both have won races with stalking styles, and now Swiss Skydiver looms as a horse with perhaps the best chance if Authentic and Art Collector get caught in a speed duel.

Mr. Big News and Max Player who finished third and fifth, respectively, in the Kentucky Derby are among horses that could be gaining in the stretch at the Preakness

Baffert said he is comfortable with the nine post for Authentic.

"I'd rather be in 9 than in 1 or 11," he said. "It realy  doesn't matter as long as he breaks OK."

Authentic drew post 18 for the Kentucky Derby. Following scratches, he moved down to 15th--still farthest outside.

The Jockeys

John Velazquez, riding Authentic for the first time in a race, gunned the son of Into Mischief to the lead and was in first place at every call.

Velazquez has the return mount on Saturday.

Regular jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. will ride Art Collector for trainer Tom Drury.

McPeek is switching from Tyler Gaffalione to Robby Albarado as ridder on Swiss Skydiver, who has post four.

Gaffalione has ridden Swiss Skydiver four times, with two victories and two second place finishes.

On Sept. 4, Swiss Skydiver had the rail post and finished second by 1 1/2 lengths to Shedaresthedevil in the 1 1/8 mile Kentucky Oaks (Grade 1) at Churchill Downs.  The winning time was a stakes record 1:48.28.

Following the Preakness draw, McPeek told the Pimlico media office that he felt Gaffalione allowed Swiss Skydiver to get pinned near the rail early in the race, and then moved her outside shortly before an opening developed near the rail.

Gaffalione, who has been riding at Churchill Downs and at Belmont Park is among big-name jockeys who are not riding at Pimlico this weekend amid COVID-19 restrictions.

All jockeys riding in races at Pimlico are required to have a COVID-19 test at that track within 72 hours of their first mount. Then, they must wait in isolation until test results are available.

Mike Smith, Irad Ortiz Jr., Jose Ortiz and Javier Castellano are among regular Triple Crown jockeys who are not riding in the Preakness.

1. Excession (30-1)  Steve Asmussen    Sheldon Russell

2. Mr. Big News (12-1)  Bret Calhoun    Gabriel Saez

3. Art Collector (5-2)  Tom Drury    Brian Hernandez Jr.

4. Swiss Skydiver (6-1)  Kenny McPeek  Robby Albarado

5. Thousand Words (6-1)  Bob Baffert   Florent Geroux

6. Jesus’ Team (30-1)  Jose D’Angelo   Jevian Toledo

7. Ny Traffic (15-1)  Saffie Joseph Jr.    Horacio Karamanos

8. Max Player (15-1) Steve Asmussen   Paco Lopez

9. Authentic (9-5)  Bob Baffert   John Velazquez

10. Pneumatic (20-1)  Steve Asmussen Joe Bravo

11. Liveyourbeastlife (30-1) Jorge Abreu   Junior Alvarado

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