By Jim Freer
With wins in the Gulfstream Park Oaks and in two other Kentucky Oaks points qualifying races, Swiss Skydiver has a guaranteed berth in that Grade 1 stakes that will be run on Sept. 4.
A victory in the race that is often called “the Kentucky Derby for fillies” would be the racing thrill of a lifetime for Peter Callahan, who owns Swiss Skydiver.
It would be the first Kentucky Oaks win for trainer Ken McPeek , whose list of Grade 1 stakes wins includes the Florida Derby, Belmont Stakes, Ashland Stakes, and Louisiana Derby.
Meanwhile, McPeek has a contingency plan that could have Swiss Skydiver bypass the Kentucky Oaks and instead run in the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5.
Both races are at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Ky.
Decision on Wednesday
McPeek and Callahan will make a key “Derby or Oaks” decision this Wednesday afternoon at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.
Keeneland will draw for post positions for races it will run on Saturday July 11.
McPeek will enter Swiss Skydiver in one of these two races:
* $400,000 Ashland (Grade 1), 1 1/16 miles on dirt for 3-YO fillies.
It is final round points qualifying race for the Kentucky Oaks. The first four finishers will receive 100, 40, 20 and 10 points respectively.
* $600,000 Blue Grass Stakes (Grade 2)–1 1/8 miles for 3-YOs.
It is a final round qualifying points race for the Kentucky Derby. The first four finishers in the Blue Grass will receive 100, 40, 20 and 10 points respectively.
Oaks Point Leaders
Swiss Skydiver has 310 Oaks qualifying points–putting her first in the standings. Bonny South is second with 100 points.
Swiss Skydiver earned ten Kentucky Oaks points with a third place finish in the Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds in New Orleans on Feb. 15.
She earned 100 [points each with wins in the Gulfstream Park Oaks at Gulfstream (photo on home page), the Fantasy at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., and the Santa Anita Oaks at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif.
There are seven remaining Kentucky Oaks qualifying points races.
Oaks or Derby?
Swiss Skydiver, a daughter of Daredevil, will have enough points and will be able to run in that race even if she doesn’t run in another Oaks qualifying race.
Swiss Skydiver has not raced in any Kentucky Derby qualifying races.
McPeek recently nominated Swiss Skydiver for the Kentcky Derby.
It is likely that a horse will need at least 40 points to make the Kentucky Derby field. If Swiss Skydiver doesn’t run or runs without earning points in the Blue Grass, there are seven subsequent Derby qualifying races.
Callahan, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., told us that the depth and strength of the Blue Grass field could be a determining factor on whether Swiss Skydiver runs in that race or in the Ashland.
“We don’t want to run in the Blue Grass unless we think we have a good chance,” he said.
McPeek plans to enter Envoulante in the Ashland. He trains that filly for Walking Thoroughbreds and WinStar Farm.
In recent days, he has said that he would prefer not to run Envoulante against Swiss Skydiver at this stage of the Kentucky Oaks trail.