It's Oaks day at Churchill Downs and we are in store for a thrilling bout between (at least) two heavyweight champions. The Kentucky Oaks, held annually the day before the Kentucky Derby, is the most lucrative and perhaps most prestigious race for 3-year old fillies (female horses). With a $1.25 million purse on the line in this Grade I Stakes race, only the best of the best will be in the gate come post time, which is scheduled for 5:45 pm EST.
Yes, I said 5:45 pm EST today. Meaning less than 2 hours from the time of me writing this. Hence the "Emergency" in the title. It's all hands on deck, batten down the hatches. Time to get serious about who is going to win this race.
And who, might you ask, is going to be the Filly wearing the Lillies?
The answer my friends is blowing in the wind. It's also right here if you just keep reading.
Translation: Swiss Skydiver.
Swiss Skydiver, ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, trained by Kenneth McPeek, and owned by Peter J. Callahan, will be the 2020 Champion at the Kentucky Oaks.
In Swiss Skydiver's last 5 races, she has finished 1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd, and 1st. The only time she finished second was in the Grade 2 Toyota Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland in which she raced against the boys, led for 90% of the race, and barely lost down the stretch to Art Collector, who was projected to be the second-favorite for the Derby (behind Tiz the Law) before he scratched.
In her most recent start, Swiss ran an incredibly impressive race and blew away the competition at the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga. Just look at this photo of Swiss coming down the stretch in the Alabama.
Notice how clean she is. She cruised the entire time riding neck and neck with Crystal Ball and took off on the final turn to blow everyone out down the stretch. While other horses are covered in dirt, Swiss crossed the finish line clean as a whistle, and probably hardly out of breath. Not to mention she was a good 10 lengths ahead of the field. Not often do you cakewalk like that to a Grade 1 victory.
Swiss Skydiver was invited to race with the boys in the Kentucky Derby but opted to "stay in her lane" and race in the Oaks. It would have been exciting to see her compete in the Derby but I can't fault the owners for wanting to see her triumphantly galavant covered in the famous Kentucky Oaks Lillies.
The Why Not:
There is another. Gamine, ridden by Johnny Velasquez, trained by Bob Baffert, and owned by Michael Lund Peterson is as fast as they come. She won the Grade 1 Longines Test at Saratoga with ease on August 8th and has won 3 out of the 4 races she's entered this year. Gamine has a hall of fame jockey and trainer. She has incredible speed. But like the Highlander, there can only be one. And today is Swiss Skydiver's day in the sun.
You should bet Swiss Skydiver across the board. There are no guarantees but she is guaranteed to finish in the money. However, here's the real bettor's bet. Exacta Wheel with Swiss Skydiver finishing 1st and the field finishing 2nd. It's 8 total bets with the 9 horse field, and the reason it's such a great bet is that if Swiss wins and ANYONE besides Gamine comes in second, you'll cash out big. If Swiss wins and Gamine finishes second, you'll probably win half of your money back. If Swiss doesn't win, well, you lose. But she's going to win. And outside of Swiss Skydiver (8-5) and Gamine (1-1), 5 of the other 7 horses are 50-1 or 30-1 longshots. If any of those longshots come in second behind Swiss Skydiver, we'll all have a Merry Christmas.
As a special surprise to my readers, I will be featuring a "Who Does Kate Like" paying homage to the great handicapper Kate Sinnott. Kate will be watching the races this weekend from her home paddock a few miles down the road from Saratoga Springs. Now, who does Kate like in the Oaks?
WDKL: A Triple with Swiss Skydiver, Gamine, and Donna Veloce. Gamine is fast but can she go the distance? She's never raced anyone like Swiss Skydiver before.
Good luck to all and may the horse be with you. Let's go Swiss Skydiver.