by Jeremy Plonk
August 17, 2020
Each Monday, I’ll select my Most Valuable Pony from the previous week’s racing action around the country. Who won the week? It could be a breakout performer, a known stakes commodity or the horse lifting the most loot. Chime in on Twitter @Xpressbet with your thoughts on who should be each week’s MVP.
August 10-16, 2020
MVP: Swiss Skydiver
Owner: Peter Callahan
Trainer: Kenny McPeek
Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione
Performance: Similar to Tiz the Law’s Travers demolition a week prior, Swiss Skydiver dominated the Aug. 15 Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga over a mile and one-quarter. The well-traveled filly added to her 2020 victories in the Gulfstream Park Oaks, Santa Anita Oaks and Fantasy Stakes by coasting under the wire 3-1/2 lengths to the good. Just like Tiz the Law, Swiss Skydiver sat a first-over trip and pressed a Bob Baffert trainee on the front end, easily putting away Crystal Ball and opening more than 6 lengths on the field in mid-stretch before being throttled down. She solidified her position atop the 3-year-old dirt filly ranks along with Acorn/Test winner Gamine.
On Tap: After the Alabama, trainer Kenny McPeek indicated the Sept. 4 Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks would be the next likely landing spot with an eye toward a potential Oct. 3 Grade 1 Preakness date. Expect to see Swiss Skydiver in the Oaks (vs. Gamine) unless something unforeseen happens to Sept. 5 Grade 1 Kentucky Derby favorite Tiz the Law’s status. Longer-range, the Alabama was a Win & You’re In for the Nov. 7 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Keeneland, meaning we could see quite a historic run of races if this filly maintains her sterling 2020 form.
Honorable Mentions: Early Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies favoritism may go to Thoughtfully after her smashing, 5-length win in Saratoga’s August 12 Grade 2 Adirondack Stakes. The Tapit filly is unbeaten in 2 starts for trainer Steve Asmussen. At Woodbine, reigning Canadian Horse of the Year Pink Lloyd continued his sprint dominance August 15 in the Grade 3 Bold Venture. He’s now won 9 straight and 25 of 30 races in his outstanding career. Finally, the versatile 3-year-old filly Antoinette moved dirt-to-turf to win the Aug. 16 $500,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational in her second start of the meet. The Bill Mott trainee finished third in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks prior.