Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Swiss Skydiver

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

August 11th, 2020

The talented speedster Swiss Skydiver has won a bevy of graded stakes races against 3-year-old fillies this year, emerging as one of the favorites to win the Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks (G1).

But thanks to a gallant runner-up effort against males in the Blue Grass (G2), there’s also an outside chance Swiss Skydiver could become the first filly to compete in the Kentucky Derby (G1) since Devil May Care in 2010. Swiss Skydiver certainly has the class to compete at a high level against male rivals, but whether she has enough stamina to negotiate 1 1/4 miles on Derby Day is another question entirely.

Swiss SkydiverPedigree
More Than Ready
Dare Devil
Swiss Skydiver
Expo Gold
Clouds of Gold

Swiss Skydiver’s sire is Daredevil, an early-maturing juvenile who won the one-mile Champagne (G1) over a sloppy track before failing to train on as a sophomore. A clear speedster who performed best in one-turn races, Daredevil is off to a solid start at stud, but it’s too early to say how far his progeny might want to run. Swiss Skydiver and Indiana Oaks (G3) winner Shedaresthedevil have won major races up to 1 1/16 miles in distance, but classic distances are a different challenge entirely.

Daredevil himself is a son of King’s Bishop (G1) winner More Than Ready, a prolific sire known for passing on speed more than stamina. Daredevil is also a half-brother to Albertus Maximus, a Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner whose stamina topped out at 1 1/8 miles.

The bottom half of Swiss Skydiver’s pedigree is similarly slanted toward speed. Dam Expo Gold never won running farther than 6 1/2 furlongs, and her three foals prior to Swiss Skydiver all followed suit, with the stakes-placed turf sprinter Miss Hot Legs ranking as the best.

This isn’t surprising since Expo Gold is a daughter of Johannesburg, an early-maturing 2-year-old who recorded the majority of his victories in sprints. Johannesburg did display enough stamina to win the 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), and at stud he’s been represented by Florida Derby (G1) winner Scat Daddy, the sire of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify.

But overall, classic types have not been abundant among Johannesburg’s progeny, though his daughters have produced 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic (G1) winner Collected and 1 1/2-mile Irish Oaks (G1) victor Seventh Heaven.

Only time will tell if Swiss Skydiver’s connections choose to roll the dice with a run in the Kentucky Derby. But from a pedigree perspective, the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Kentucky Oaks seems more likely to be Swiss Skydiver’s forte than the 1 1/4-mile journey of the Derby.