Just as she has been on the Longines Kentucky Oaks leaderboard through the late spring and summer, Peter Callahan's Swiss Skydiver was comfortably in front by herself in the $500,000 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 15.
After pressing the early pace established by Crystal Ball, the Kenny McPeek-trained 3-year-old filly took charge midway on the second turn of the 1 1/4-mile dirt race and rolled to an eased-up 3 ½-length victory under Tyler Gaffalione. A heavy favorite in the field of seven, the daughter of Daredevil covered the distance in 2:03.04. She paid $4.30
Bonny South rallied to grab second, 1 ½ lengths ahead of third-place Harvey's Lil Goil, while Swiss Skydiver's stablemate Envoutante settled for fourth.
The Alabama was the final qualifying race leading up to the Kentucky Oaks Sept. 4 at Churchill Downs. It offered points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to its top four finishers.
Swiss Skydiver, who entered the race with a 350-160 edge in Oaks points over Speech in second, now has 450. Bonny South is third with 150.
Swiss Skydiver also has 40 points toward the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve from her runner-up finish in the Blue Grass, though McPeek seemed more inclined to pursue the Oaks than the Derby immediately after the Alabama.
"I'm pretty sure it's going to be Oaks. Peter and I will sit down and talk about it but we're leaning pretty hard to the Oaks," McPeek said. "Tiz the Law's race here last week (winning the Runhappy Travers) was ultra-impressive and if you hold the two against each other; I'm not sure we want to be up against him yet."
McPeek added that Brian Hernandez Jr. would ride her in the Oaks. Hernandez won aboard her in the Fantasy and has been McPeek's "go-to jock for a long time," the trainer said.
Swiss Skydiver also picked up her first Grade 1 victory in the Alabama, a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff at Keeneland Nov. 7.