Swiss Skydiver made sure the 2020 Preakness Stakes will be remembered for more than just concluding the year's COVID-19 challenged Triple Crown.
The 3-year-old daughter of Daredevil edged Kentucky Derby winner Authentic by a neck Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md. She became the sixth filly to capture the race in its 145-year history, and first since Rachel Alexandra in 2009.
Jockey Robby Albarado guided Swiss Skydiver to the inside of leader and favored Authentic -- and rider John Velazquez -- entering the far turn and the two horses headed into the stretch battling for the lead. The leaders fought nose to nose the rest of the way, with the filly prevailing at the wire.
"I knew Authentic usually stays off the fence a bit, he drifts maybe turning for home, but my plan was to stay inside of him," Albarado said. "It was a sprint from the race pole home and she was determined to be in front of him and wasn't letting him pass. So just a heart of gold. She has a heart of gold. A true champion."
The victory with the 11-1 shot gave trainer Kenny McPeek his first Preakness Stakes victory.
"I was a little worried when they got to about the 16th pole, I thought it looked like Authentic got his head in front a little bit and then she fought right back," said McPeek, who won the 2002 Belmont Stakes with Sarava.
"There's no guarantees in this game and I've had some tough beats ... but I'm just thrilled she fought on."
Swiss Skydiver ran the 1 3/6 miles in 1:53.28 -- the second-fastest Preakness ever -- and paid $25.40 to win. The Bob Baffert-trained Authentic, which went off as a 3-2 favorite, finished 9 3/4 lengths ahead of third-place finisher Jesus' Team, a 40-1 shot.
Baffert, who also trained eighth-place finisher Thousand Words, was denied a record eighth Preakness Stakes victory.
"I was hoping (Authentic) was on the lead, but he got beat," Baffert said. "He had the whole stretch to get by her. She ran a gallant race."
Albarado replaced Tyler Gaffalione, who was aboard Swiss Skydiver when she finished second in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs last month. It was the second Preakness Stakes victory for Albarado, who won with Curlin in 2007.
In her only previous race against colts, Swiss Skydiver finished second to Art Collector in the Blue Grass Stakes on July 11. Art Collector finished fourth in the 11-horse Preakness field.
The Preakness Stakes normally is the second jewel of the Triple Crown, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced a rescheduling of this year's three races. The Belmont Stakes was run on June 20 and the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5.
Swiss Skydiver, owned by Peter Callahan, also earned automatic entry into the Breeders' Cup Classic at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. on Nov. 7.
Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby after a thrilling stretch battle with Authentic, did not run in the Preakness, but has entered the Breeders' Cup Classic.
The Preakness was run without the general public in attendance.