American ace Swiss Skydiver has emerged as a potentially exciting addition to the mix for the Qipco 1000 Guineas.
The Kenny McPeek-trained filly served notice of her talent in winning the Gulfstream Park Oaks in March and backed that up in accounting for the highly-regarded Venetian Harbor in the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn on Friday night.
The suspension of racing in Britain amid the coronavirus outbreak has led to the first four Classics of the season needing to be rescheduled, with the Guineas meeting earmarked for the first weekend in June, should racing be able to resume later this month.
McPeek is no stranger to having runners in Britain, most notably saddling Hard Buck to be second to Doyen in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in 2004, and feels the delay to the Guineas offers an opportunity to be explored.
He said: “We are going to do the entry for the 1000 Guineas and see what it will take logistically to bring her. As long as she is continuing to do as well as she’s been doing I think the timing would be good, there’s five weeks in between races.
“I’ve got to run it past the owner (Peter Callahan), but he seems to be interested. It’s one step of many.
“Even if we ran there we would have time to come back for the Kentucky Oaks (delayed this year to September). We’re four months out on that at the moment, it’s a long way away.
“I’ve had horses travel over and back without much trouble. Hopefully we can figure out all the logistics and everything can be put together.”
Venetian Harbor was all the rage for what was a strong renewal of the Grade Three Fantasy and was quickly to the lead under Flavien Prat, with Brian Hernandez Jr in close attendance on Swiss Skydiver, who is a daughter of Daredevil.
It soon became clear it would be between the two and ultimately it was McPeek’s charge who proved the strongest by a ready two and a half lengths – with nearly 11 lengths back to Shedaresthedevil in third.
McPeek said: “I think she’s the kind of filly that can handle the switch in surfaces and the 1000 Guineas is such a great race. Typically it wouldn’t be timed like this, so it kind of falls in our pattern.
“She’s not a big filly and I don’t think she’s the type that is strictly a dirt horse. I think she would like it (turf), her sire line is More Than Ready and the female line is Johannesburg and he was a Group One winner on the turf.
“She’s a really efficient filly, she’s compact and I think she’ll handle the switch in surface. It enhances her value as a broodmare in the long run if she were to run well in a race like that and Peter Callahan himself is a breeder and he would have those kind of ideas as well.
“My filly is really good and the fact that she’s been running – some of the starters will be making their first start of the season, I would have thought, so there’s something to be said about having some races under our belt already.”
McPeek’s last British foray proved freakishly disappointing, with Kentucky Oaks runner-up Daddys Lil Darling bolting before the start of the 2017 Oaks at Epsom. She unshipped Olivier Peslier and was withdrawn, as Enable went on to victory in a race run in a thunderstorm.
He said: “We’ve always run pretty well, we haven’t won but we’ve been pretty unlucky on the last couple of trips, so that’s due to change. We brought the filly for the English Oaks and that was just very unlucky, nobody could have predicted that happening.
“You could have taken her over there a thousand times and that wouldn’t happen again, but it is what it is.”