Mateo Vazquez ’21
If you have ever seen a horse race, you know that the few minutes around the course is barely reflective of anything that goes on behind the scenes. The amount of time that goes into the training and caring for the horses, along with letting them grow accustomed to performing out on the course is a strenuous task that takes an immense amount of hours that many are not prepared to partake in. However, one of the most important aspects of the race once the horse gets out on the course is the connection that they have with their jockey. The pair cannot expect to do well out on the course if they attempt to quickly forge their relationship. Even the jockeys that have been training with the same horse for a prolonged period of time face issues and difficulties in getting their horse accustomed to the course and reacting properly to their commands. With all of this considered, this past weekend, the crowd at the Preakness Stakes got to bear witness to an anomaly. The winner of the race, Swiss Skydiver, was given a new jockey mere moments before the start of the race. Just minutes before the horses were off, Robby J. Albarado got the urgent call that he was needed on the course. Albarado and Swiss Skydiver achieved some amazing accomplishments out on the course. Swiss Skydiver became the sixth filly—and first since 2009 –to beat out all of the colts in the 145-year-old race. This moment of fate was destiny for Skydiver and Albarado as the two made an excellent pair, showcasing their combined talents out on the course.
Albarado was a regular and well-known jockey back in 2007 and 2008, but has faced his fair share of difficulties in returning to the course more recently. Following numerous injuries, including two skull fractures, it appeared as if Albarado’s career was coming to an end. Just days before the race, Albarado was riding low-level and inexpensive horses at a few races on occasion, but his racing career was considered over by the majority of fans. However, Swiss Skydiver’s trainer and owner both felt it necessary to give Albarado another chance. The trainer, who knew Albarado in his prime, thought that granting him the opportunity to ride Swiss Skydiver would result in a win. This risk paid off, as Albarado turned things around and achieved a run on the course that has not been seen in years. However, Albarado was not the first, or even the second, rider that came to mind for the team. Due to the coronavirus and the quarantine requirements for riders, the team was almost forced to withdraw from the race due to a lack of a rider, but luckily enough, Albarado was given the chance to return to the game.
The duo showed their talent on the course; but at the start, many viewers considered the pair to be out of the race. It was shocking when Albarado was able to take Swiss Skydiver into a literal dive towards the rails where he found a gap between the rail and the opposing horse Authentic. The pair took their chances, and it paid off as they were able to slip right by Authentic and into the lead. The pair was a full stride ahead of the other racers throughout their journey down the course. The New York Times reported a quote from an onlooker, who stated that Albarado “saw a hole and the rail, and she took him there.” The unexpected duo brought home enormous earnings, some making $25.40 on a $2 bet and their overall career earnings well above $870,000. The chaotic few days approaching race day turned out to yield an astounding outcome. Although many considered Swiss Skydiver to be the wrong horse for the race, Albarado brought her home to victory at the Preakness Stakes.