June 29, 2022

Turf champion Yibir back on U.S. soil for Man o’ War

Yibir ridden by William Buick wins the Breeders Cup Turf at Del Mar race track (Photo by Horsephotos)

Man o’ War S. (G1) — Race 8 (4:46 p.m. ET)

Reigning turf male champion Yibir makes what likely will be the first of several return trips to the U.S. this season for Saturday’s $700,000 Man o’ War S. (G1) at Belmont Park over 1 3/8 miles on the inner turf.

Yibir landed both the Jockey Club Derby at Belmont and the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Del Mar last fall to notch division honors for owner-breeder Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby. Although a notable stayer among three-year-olds in England last summer, his status as a gelding prevented him from competing in that country’s third classic for males, the St Leger (G1), thus his successful targeting of those American prizes.

Although a terrific second by a neck in the March 26 Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) at Meydan in his season, Yibir was a puzzling second in the Jockey Club (G2) at Newmarket less than two weeks ago at odds of 1-4.

“The race at Newmarket was a prep to come to America on the back of,” Appleby said. “I know he was a beaten favorite on the day, but our European tracks don’t seem to suit him so much. We were pleased that we got a run into him and he came out of the race well.” 

The leading American-based prospect in the Man o’ War is multiple Grade 1 winner Gufo, who lost last year’s Man o’ War by a nose to Channel Cat. Gufo was victorious in his season debut in the April 2 Pan American (G2) at Gulfstream, winning by two lengths over Grade 3 winner Abaan.

Although only a six-horse field, the Man o’ War might have a relatively adequate pace. In addition to Abaan, So High also has early foot. Although still eligible for an entry-level allowance condition, So High was only beaten two lengths in the 2021 Man o’ War as a 90-1 outsider.

Later in the card, the streaking Chad Brown stable is expected to have to the two betting favorites in the $150,000 Beaugay S. (G3) for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf in Lemista and Rougir.

Group 2 winner Lemista, who finished second by a half-length in the 2021 Beaugay in what was her U.S. debut, was last seen finishing third to the late Santa Barbara in the Beverly D. (G1) at Arlington last August.

Rougir, who upset the Prix de l’Opera (G1) last October, subsequently finished seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) at Del Mar. The Beaugay marks her first start since joining the Brown stable.

“It might be a touch short for her, but it’s a starting point,” said Brown of Rougir.