Swiss Skydiver’s dramatic Preakness S. (G1) victory topped a 1-2-3 finish by Kentucky-breds in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown and topped a day that saw two more horses from the Bluegrass state secure three Breeders’ Cup spots with their Grade 1 wins.
Swiss Skydiver, who became just the sixth filly in history to win the Preakness, defeated Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Authentic by a neck after a scintillating stretch-long duel. Jesus’ Team, checked in a gallant third in his first Grade 1 outing.
Swiss Skydiver likely secured 3-year-old filly championship honors with Saturday’s win. The Peter Callahan-owned daughter of Daredevil now has five graded stakes wins this year, including the Alabama S. (G1), which earned her a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). With the Preakness win, she also has a spot in the Classic (G1). Her earnings now stand at $1,792,980.
“We can look at both races, I suppose,” said trainer Kenny McPeek on the Breeders’ Cup options. “We got in for the Distaff after the Alabama, but I would say right now we would probably lean towards the older fillies and mares. But nothing is set in stone and we don’t have to make a decision today, I don’t think.”
The Preakness winner was bred by WinStar Farm out of the Johannesburg mare Expo Gold, who was bred to Catholic Boy this spring.
Saturday at Keeneland the Godolphin homebred Essential Quality won his second race in as many starts with a 3 1/4-length victory in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1), a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
A gray son of perennial top sire Tapit, Essential Quality’s dam Delightful Quality is a daughter of multiple stakes winner Contrive, also the dam of 2005 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner Folklore.
Essential Quality, who broke his maiden by four lengths at Churchill Downs on Sept. 5 in his debut, upped his earnings to $295,144 with Saturday’s performance.
“We’ve had some very nice 2-year-old fillies, but this is probably the best [2-year-old colt] I’ve had as far as talent goes,” said trainer Brad Cox.
Rounding out the trio of Kentucky-bred Grade 1 winners Saturday was Gufo in the $250,000 Belmont Derby Inv. (G1), who earned a trip to the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) with the win.
Gufo, trained by Christophe Clement for Otter Bend Stables, was making his Grade 1 debut. The son of Declaration of War had won the Kent S. (G3) on July 4, and like he did in that race, came from several lengths off the pace to win Saturday’s 1 1/4-mile contest by one length.
Gufo has won five of seven starts overall and earned $415,010. He was bred by John Little and Stephen Cainelli. Gufo is out of Floy and a a half-brother to three-time graded winner Hogy. Floy has an unraced 2-year-old by Tourist.
Three more Breeders’ Cup spots are available in a trio of graded stakes Sunday at Keeneland. The Win and You’re In series wraps up next Saturday with the last five races, all Grade 1s, at Belmont Park.