Déjà Vu? The 2020 Preakness vs. 2007 Belmont Stakes

Who run the world? Girls! Swiss Skydiver was the 55th filly to compete in the Preakness. She did not disappoint. However, her race seemed oddly familiar…

Swiss Skydiver to the finish line. Credit: Nick Wass / Associated Press

On October 3rd, 2020, Swiss Skydiver delivered a major upset. She battled her way to the finish line against Authentic, who was the favorite to win the race. The race started out slow: 24.48 seconds. Swiss Skydiver had a confident start to the race. She broke out strongly and immediately went to the rail, never breaking stride. At 1/2 mile, the pace of the race picked up to 47.65 seconds. Swiss Skydiver went to being fifth in the race. She was on the rail, battling with Art Collector and Pneaumatic, who were on the outside. In front of them, Bob Baffert’s two horses Authentic and A Thousand Words were battling for the lead.

Yet, at the end of the 1/2 mile, Swiss Skydiver’s jockey, Robby Albarado, found an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. He went on the inside of Authentic, wedging in-between him and A Thousand Words. That gave him the confidence to make an early move and move past Authentic and A Thousand Words for the lead. Then, a battle of the sexes ensued. It was between Swiss Skydiver and Authentic. The filly was on the rail and the stallion was on the outside. Swiss Skydiver was leading by a neck, yet Authentic kept digging at her heels on the outside. They were nose to nose at the final furlong, yet the filly skydived to the finish line, never looking back, bringing Robby Albarado the 202o Preakness title.

For horse racing fans, it is nothing new to see Robby Albarado go against John Velasquez in the battle of the sexes. This year’s Preakness reminded them of the 2007 Belmont Stakes, where the same jockey’s went against each other for the title. Yet, that year, it was Velasquez who was the jockey of Rags To Riches, the only filly in that race, and Albarado mounted Curlin, the stallion.

Rags To Riches wins the 2007 Belmont Stakes. Credit: NYRA

That battle was one for the history books. It was a slow and a rocky start for the filly, who stumbled out of the starting gate. Velasquez kept her on the outside for the whole length of the race, while Curlin was on the rail. At some point it seemed that Curlin is going to get bottled up on the inside with no room to make a move. They had five furlongs to go without any moves being made by the jockeys and the pace was relatively unchanged. Yet, midway around the far turn, Albarado made a move to the outside of C P West, who had the lead. Although, right as Curlin was inching closer and closer to the lead, Rags To Riches came in from the outside with a 4-wide sweep. And then it was all Curlin and Rags To Riches for the desperate finish. It came very close between the two horses, but, in the end, Rags To Riches beat Curlin, an eventual horse of the year, by a neck. That win signified the first Belmont win for John Velasquez and a first win riding the filly. Rags to Riches became only the third filly to win the Belmont and the first one in over a hundred years. So, it is true, girls DO run the world!

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