The brilliant Gamine and the well-traveled Swiss Skydiver, both Grade 1 winners, headline the 2020 Kentucky Oaks (G1) field that drew nine 3-year-old fillies, eight of them hailing from Kentucky, in the $1.25 million contest to be run Friday, Sept. 4.
Gamine, a daughter of leading sire Into Mischief and bred by Grace Thoroughbred Holdings, has been outstanding in her four starts, winning the Acorn S. (G1) by an astounding 18 3/4-lengths and the Test S. (G1) by seven. Trained by Bob Baffert for Michael Petersen, Gamine sold for $1.8 million as a 2-year-old.
“I like (post) five,” Baffert said after the filly drew in the center of the field. “Being in the middle is always good. Right now the most important thing is that she ships well, that she relaxes, gets in there and breaks well. She’s training really well. We still have a few more hurdles, I’m happy with that spot.”
Swiss Skydiver, recent winner of the Alabama S. (G1), drew the rail for the 1 1/8-mile Oaks.
“Not at all,” Swiss Skydiver’s trainer Kenny McPeek said when asked if he was concerned with his filly’s post position. “Fortunately they don’t let me ride her. I like the inside, it’s the shortest trip. I don’t see us taking back. She ran on the front end at Santa Anita and Keeneland. We’ll leave it up to Tyler (Gafflione) mostly.”
Swiss Skydiver’s only blemish in her last five starts, all graded stakes, was a game second-place effort against males in the Blue Grass S. (G2). A daughter of Daredevil bred by WinStar Farm, she races for Peter Callahan and sold for a modest $35,000 as a yearling at Keeneland.
Among others in the Oaks field are the Uncle Mo filly Donna Veloce, who won the Santa Ysabel (G3) and was second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). She was bred by the Coin Breaker Syndicate. Up and coming Shedaresthedevil, another daughter of Daredevil, will break from post seven. A recent blowout winner of the Indiana Oaks (G3), she won the Honeybee S. (G3) in March and has won both her starts at Churchill Downs. She was also bred by WinStar Farm and sold for $280,000 at the Keeneland November 2019 sale.
The Oaks is race 12 on the Churchill Downs card and is scheduled to run at 5:45 p.m. ET.