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Swiss Skydiver Faces Competitive Field in Santa Anita Oaks

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Friday June 05, 2020
The $200,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G2) at Santa Anita Park is set for Saturday. Despite the schedule changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa Anita Park will once again feature one of the lead-ups to the Kentucky Derby.

The race is taking place during what would have been the date of the Belmont Stakes, and trainers will now have three months, not four weeks, to prepare their runners for the Derby.

The field is set to feature Swiss Skydiver making her first West Coast start, as well as three other major competitors. 

Swiss Skydiver

"She's been doing super. It was five weeks in between this race and her last race, and it'll be another five between this race and the Ashland," trainer Kenny McPeek said when speaking about the grade 1 race sponsored by Central Bank at Keeneland July 11. 

"It's a nice race, and to have an opportunity to win it, we looked at it and thought that the logistics were pretty easy, so we shipped her out. She's been there since Tuesday, and she likes it out there. 

"She's done fine and (jockey) Mike Smith galloped her today to get to know her a little bit. She's settled in fine. I'll fly out tomorrow, so it will be an exciting trip." 

If she can take the Santa Anita Oaks, it will be her third consecutive graded stakes win. 

The Daredevil filly considers Churchill Downs her home, but she performs well when shipping out. Her last two wins were the March 28 Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) at Gulfstream Park and the May 1 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park. 

Swiss Skydiver already has 210 qualifying points toward the Sept. 4 Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1), securing her a spot in the event. 

She will break under Mike Smith from post 1.

Other Competition

Swiss Skydiver's biggest competition will likely come from Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Speech. The Florida-bred daughter of Mr Speaker is trained by Michael McCarthy. 

She finished second in her last three starts, including her only previous stakes attempt in the March 8 Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita. 

Speech will come into the Santa Anita Oaks off a May 2 runner-up finish in an allowance optional claiming race at Oaklawn. It went the same Santa Anita Oaks distance of 1 1/16 miles, and she was beaten a neck by Gamine.

The filly will break from post 3 under Flavien Prat. 

Baffert's Entries

The field will be completed by a pair of runners coming out of Bob Baffert's barn. 

HRH Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud's Merneith will break from post 2. She is coming off a 10 1/4-length win in an April 19 Oaklawn maiden race.

Merneith is a daughter of American Pharoah, the 2015 Triple Crown winner, and she was bred in Kentucky by China Horse Club. She was purchased for $600,000 by Narvick International on behalf of HRH Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud from the consignment of De Meric Sales to the Ocala Breeders' Sale Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. 

She will break under jockey Drayden Van Dyke. 

Regal Beauty, a daughter of Malibu Moon, will likely come in at the longest price. She is coming off a May 17 maiden win at Santa Anita. 

Most recently, she worked five furlongs on May 30 in 1:01 over the Santa Anita main track. Regal Beauty will break from post 4 under jockey Abel Cedillo.

The Santa Anita Oaks will award 170 total qualifying points toward the Kentucky Oaks on a scale of 100-40-20-10 to the top finishers.