The two 4-year-old fillies meet June 5 in the $500,000 Odgen Phipps Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park as part of a stellar lineup for seven older fillies and mares. Also entered in the 1 1/16-mile race are Valiance , Letruska , Queen Nekia , Water White , and Bonny South .
Though the seven entrants have collectively won 50 races and more than $7 million, none of Saturday’s competitors is a winner at Belmont. Only three—Letruska, Queen Nekia, and Water White—have even raced at the local main track, where 1 1/16-mile routes are around one turn.
“I’m a little concerned cause it’s not her routine. It’s a little bit different,” said Swiss Skydiver’s trainer, Kenny McPeek. “But she’s doing super and it’s an ideal spot for her timingwise. She’s been a filly that handles about anything and everything.”
Though Shedaresthedevil won the Oaks last year, Swiss Skydiver won the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old filly. Instrumental in that prize, among other victories, was her upset win over Horse of the Year Authentic in the 2020 Preakness Stakes (G1).
Jockey Jose Ortiz replaces Robby Albarado on Swiss Skydiver, a daughter of Daredevil owned by Peter Callahan.
“Nothing that Robby has done whatsoever,” McPeek said of the rider change. “We just felt that with Jose based in New York, it was the home track for him. So we decided to use a local rider.”
Albarado was up for Swiss Skydiver’s last four races and two starts this year, a victory in the Beholder Mile Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park followed by a third-place finish in the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1). She lacked her usual competitiveness in the latter race, losing by 6 1/2 lengths to Letruska.
“She had a small infection in a hind leg,” McPeek said in her training leading up to the Apple Blossom. “We thought we had it under control, but I think in hindsight—we had to treat her with antibiotics for a few days—it caused her to run flat.”
She carries high weight of 124 pounds, spotting her rivals two to six pounds apiece.
Shedaresthedevil has experience against other Phipps foes. She edged Letruska in the Azeri Stakes (G2) March 13 at Oaklawn Park after Letruska broke poorly, and last fall, Valiance beat Shedaresthedevil when the latter was third in the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (G1).
Most recently, Shedaresthedevil won the La Troienne Stakes Presented by Twinspires.com (G1) at Churchill Downs April 30 for owners Qatar Racing, Flurry Racing Stables, and Autry Lowry Jr.
“She’s a big, beautiful filly, and I think she’s moved forward from 3 to 4,” trainer Brad Cox said.
Letruska and Valiance, accustomed to racing with Lasix, compete without the diuretic Saturday. The New York Racing Association began prohibiting Lasix, used to control respiratory bleeding, in all stakes beginning this year amid a phase-out of raceday medications, as did Kentucky and California.
Valiance hasn’t raced since finishing second in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at Keeneland last November for owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Martin Schwartz, and China Horse Club. Todd Pletcher, a three-time Phipps winner, trains her.
Juddmonte’s Bonny South won the Baird Doubledogdare Stakes (G3) this spring and recorded a five-furlong workout in :59 2/5 May 29 at Churchill Downs in company with Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) favorite Essential Quality.
The Phipps is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for this fall’s Breeder’s Cup Distaff at Del Mar.
Belmont Park, Saturday, June 05, 2021, Race 7
- Grade I
- 1 1/16m
- 4 yo’s & up Fillies and Mares
- 3:18 PM (local)