Homeracing

Breeders' Cup Catch-Up: Swiss Skydiver in the Classic?

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

October 6th, 2020

Who is on the rise heading into the Nov. 6-7 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland? And whose form is slipping as the year-end event approaches?

Each week, we’ll review the latest “Win and You’re In” qualifiers from the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series and explore who’s hot and who’s not heading into the Breeders’ Cup.

Latest Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" Qualifiers

QualifierRaceDateDivision
Simply Ravishing
Alcibiades (G1)
Oct. 2, 2020
Juvenile Fillies
Diamond Oops
Phoenix (G2)
Oct. 2, 2020
Sprint
Inthemidstofbiz
Thoroughbred Club of America (G2)
Oct. 3, 2020
Filly & Mare Sprint
Uni
First Lady (G1)
Oct. 3, 2020
Filly & Mare Turf
Ivar
Shadwell Turf Mile (G1)
Oct. 3, 2020
Mile
Essential Quality
Breeders' Futurity (G1)
Oct. 3, 2020
Juvenile
Gufo
Belmont Derby (G1)
Oct. 3, 2020
Turf
Swiss Skydiver
Preakness (G1)
Oct. 3, 2020
Classic
Wooded
Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp (G1)
Oct. 4, 2020
Turf Sprint
Tarnawa
Prix de l'Opera (G1)
Oct. 4, 2020
Filly & Mare Turf
Sottsass
Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1)
Oct. 4, 2020
Turf
Sealiway
Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1)
Oct. 4, 2020
Juvenile Turf
Tiger Tanaka
Prix Marcel-Boussac (G1)
Oct. 4, 2020
Juvenile Fillies Turf
Valiance
Juddmonte Spinster (G1)
Oct. 4, 2020
Distaff
Bodenheimer
Indiana Summer S.
Oct. 4, 2020
Turf Sprint
Mutasaabeq
Bourbon (G2)
Oct. 4, 2020
Juvenile Turf

On the rise

Essential Quality

The Godolphin homebred brought his record to a perfect 2-for-2 with an easy victory in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Futurity (G1).

It wasn’t a flawless performance. He raced a bit greenly down the homestretch, and he appears to “paddle” with his left front leg, swinging it outward while he gallops.

But Essential Quality left no doubt about his superiority on the day, as he pressed fractions of :23.97, :48.86, and 1:13.40, then pulled clear to win by 3 1/4 lengths. Assuming he stays sound, this Brad Cox trainee has a bright future.

Simply Ravishing

Turf or dirt, sprint or route, Simply Ravishing can handle it all.

This exciting 2-year-old recorded her third victory from as many starts in the 1 1/16-mile Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland, where she led all the way to trounce a deep field (that including stakes winners Crazy Beautiful and Thoughtfully) by 6 1/4 lengths.

Her final time of 1:43.58 was fast, and the fact that she has won a Grade 1 race over the same track and distance as the Breeder's Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) is a big positive.

Swiss Skydiver

No filly or mare has won the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) since Zenyatta in 2009, which sounds strangely like the stat Swiss Skydiver defied when she defeated males in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness (G1) at Pimlico.

The last filly to claim top honors in the Preakness was Rachel Alexandra in 2009, but that didn’t stop Swiss Skydiver from surging up the rail to defeat Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Authentic in a driving finish.

Her final time of 1:53.28 ranks as the second-fastest Preakness ever, so trainer Kenny McPeek has the left the door open for Swiss Skydiver to face males again in the Classic.

Slipping

Art Collector

After he missed the Kentucky Derby with a minor hoof issue, Art Collector received a tricky trip racing between horses in the Preakness and failed to bring his "A" game.

When the real running began, Art Collector weakened to finish fourth, 10 lengths behind Swiss Skydiver, a sharp form reversal considering he’d defeated the filly by 3 1/2 lengths in the July 11 Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland.

Art Collector will need a big rebound if he is going to remain in contention for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Dunbar Road

This grade 1 winner was favored at even money to win the 1 1/8-mile Beldame (G2) at Belmont Park against just three rivals, but after she settled a dozen lengths off the lead through blazing early fractions, Dunbar Road failed to accelerate and trudged home third by 5 1/4 lengths, behind a pace-tracking winner.

This was Dunbar Road’s first start since she underwent surgery to correct a breathing issue, and she clearly ran below par, compared to her easy, three-length win in the Delaware H. (G2) during the summer.

Perhaps Dunbar Road was short of peak fitness, which opens the door for the possibility of an improved effort in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).

Whitmore

The runner-up in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) and third in 2019, the 7-year-old veteran appears to have lost a step or two.

He was the winner or runner-up in the 2017, 2018, and 2019 editions of the Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland, but Whitmore failed to bring his "A" game for his fourth appearance, when he rallied belatedly to finish fourth, beaten 2 3/4 lengths.

He will need to recapture peak form if he is going to vie for an elusive victory in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

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