Apple Blossom Handicap Picks: Swiss Skydiver over Monomoy Girl

The G1 Apple Blossom features a small but tremendously talented field
The G1 Apple Blossom features a small but tremendously talented field

The $1,000,000 Apple Blossom Handicap might be the most anticipated race of the year so far as Swiss Skydiver and Monomoy Girl face-off and that doesn't include the fine Letruska.

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The G1 Apple Blossom didn’t attract many runners, but it is every bit worthy of its graded status as it features a scintillating showdown between Swiss Skydiver (#2) and Monomoy Girl (#6), with a little Letruska (#3) sprinkled in. A two-time winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, Monomoy Girl should need no introduction. Now 6-years-old, this mare just keeps winning races, and in fact has crossed the finish line first in 15 of 16 career races. Her body of work really speaks for itself at this point; she’s a true champion. With that said, however I’m going to be picking against her in this spot, both on the basis of price and because I think she may be meeting her match.

My top pick in this race is Swiss Skydiver. Yes, she was no match for Monomoy Girl in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff, however she clearly wasn’t herself that day after a stumble at the start. Prior to that disappointing end to the year, this filly put together one of the more impressive campaigns for a 3-year-old filly in recent memory, including a Classic victory in the G1 Preakness over eventual G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Authentic. Like Monomoy Girl, Swiss Skydiver is all class and runs well regardless of venue. She ran one of the best races of her career over this track last year in the G3 Fantasy, and she kicked off this year with an easy win in the G1 Beholder Mile at Santa Anita. That effort was a tremendous starting point for this 4-year-old filly, who still has an enormous ceiling, and I really believe she’s going to avenge her loss in the 2020 Distaff.

Speaking of class, Letruska may not have the credentials of the top two but is a high-quality mare in her own right. I don’t think she’s on the level of Monomoy Girl or Swiss Skydiver, but she bears mentioning as she, too, is a win machine (12 of 17 in her career) and is not far off these runners at all in the speed figure department. I’m expecting her to run another big race, but I think her path to victory relies on both Monomoy Girl and Swiss Skydiver having a bad day, which is not something I’m banking on. Regardless, this edition of the Apple Blossom is one of the best races of 2021 so far and perhaps an early preview for this year’s Distaff.

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