Swiss Skydiver becomes sixth filly to win Preakness Stakes

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A historic 15 weeks after it began, the 2020 Triple Crown drew to a close as Swiss Skydiver crossed the line first in the 145th Preakness Stakes at a spectatorless Pimlico to become the sixth filly to win the race.

She was the first filly to run in the Preakness since Ria Antonia in 2014, who finished last. Hall of Famer Rachel Alexandra was the last filly to win the race back in 2009.

Bob Baffert’s Thousand Words, who was a last minute scratch in the Kentucky Derby after flipping over in the saddling area, took the early lead, followed closely behind stablemate and Kentucky Derby favorite Authentic. Swiss Skydiver moved in on the end of the backstretch for a furiously close homestretch battle with Authentic, battling to the very end.

Authentic opened as the 9-5 favorite and finished second as Baffert looked for a record eighth Preakness win. Jesus’ Team, a 40-1 longshot, was third, and G1 Blue Grass winner Art Collector was fourth.

Swiss Skydiver is trained by Kenny McPeek, ridden by Robby Albarado and owned by Peter Callahan. She set off with 11-1 odds and paid $25.40 to win, $8.40 to place and $5.80 to show. She previously won the G1 Alabama and was a surprising second in the Kentucky Oaks a month ago behind upset winner Shedaresthedevil.

A month earlier, Authentic held off heavy favorite Tiz the Law in a stretch dual to go wire-to-wire in the 146th Kentucky Derby. Tiz the Law, who won a rescheduled Belmont Stakes back in late June, sat out the Preakness since there was no Triple Crown on the line. Instead, he is resting up and preparing for the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Keeneland.

The COVID-19 pandemic scrambled this year’s Triple Crown schedule, as the Preakness ran 20 weeks after its original date of Saturday, May 16. The Kentucky Derby was moved from Saturday, May 2 to the first Saturday in September, and the Belmont was moved back two weeks but remained in the month of June. All three Triple Crown races were run without fans in attendance, and all other events (like Pimlico’s InfieldFest) and festivals associated with the races were called off.

The 2020 Triple Crown will always be remembered with an asterisk—because of a different race order, later dates for all three races (which gave horses more time to mature and prep), significantly more time in between each event and a shortened Belmont (9 furlongs instead of the traditional 12).

Last year’s Preakness was won by Gary Barber’s colt War of Will just two weeks after being majorly impeded by Maximum Security in the 145th Kentucky Derby. With now-Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse and jockey Tyler Gaffalione, War of Will ran in all three Triple Crown races last year, finishing 7th in the Derby and 9th in the Belmont.

He went on to finish an underwhelming 9th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last fall at Santa Anita before jumping from the dirt to the turf (grass) and focusing on the mile division. In July of 2020, he won the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland.

Next on the racing calendar, the world’s best horses—not just the 3-year-olds that compete in the Triple Crown—head to Lexington, Ky. for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 6 and 7, with comprehensive coverage from NBC Sports. Though the event will be run without spectators, which has become standard for the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Breeders’ Cup will return to Lexington again in 2022.

2020 Preakness Stakes full order of finish:

  1. Swiss Skydiver
  2. Authentic
  3. Jesus’ Team
  4. Art Collector
  5. Max Player
  6. Excession
  7. Mr. Big News
  8. Thousand Words
  9. Ny Traffic
  10. Pneumatic
  11. Liveyourbeastlife