(Yibir / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

From the NYRA Media Team:

Godolphin’s Yibir displayed a devastating turn of foot with a last-to-first run to capture Saturday’s $1 million Jockey Club Derby Invitational, garnering a 97 Beyer Speed Figure in his North American debut in the final leg of NYRA’s Turf Triple series.

The Charlie Appleby-trained son of Dubawi took to the rear of the seven-horse field in the 12-furlong Widener turf test for sophomores, before fanning several paths wide around the far turn and catapulted himself to the front in upper stretch, drawing away to a 2 ½-length score under jockey Jamie Spencer.

Travelling assistant Chris Connett said Yibir will remain at Belmont Park through the next two days before shipping back to Appleby’s training yard at Newmarket in England on Wednesday.

“He pulled up well. We were very happy with him,” Connett said Sunday morning. “He takes his races pretty well. He puts a lot into his runs, so he usually comes out nicely.”

Yibir entered the Jockey Club Derby off a triumph in the Group 2 Voltigeur on August 18 going 12 furlongs at York Racecourse, where he defeated next-out Group 1-placed The Mediterranean by 1 ¼ lengths over good ground. He also captured the 1 5/8-mile Group 3 Bahrain Trophy on July 8 at Newmarket in his first grouped stakes score.

“The form was very solid from his previous race,” Connett said. “As long as he handled the travel over here, we were very confident he would run a big race.

“He’s a true mile and a half horse and can potentially go further in trip as well,” Connett continued. “As was seen yesterday, he has a nice turn of foot also. He’ll go back out tomorrow morning for a little trot around and hopefully we’ll see him in remain good spirits.”

Yibir, who is out of the German-bred Monsun mare Rumh, is a full-brother to multiple Group 1-winning filly Wild Illusion, who finished second to Sistercharlie in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in 2018.

“I was fortunate enough to travel for some of her races as well,” Connett said. “She was a lovely filly. They both had their own characters.”

In capturing the Jockey Club Derby, Yibir earned a “Win And You’re In” berth to the Grade 1, $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar. Connett said the horse will be evaluated upon returning to his overseas base before any definite plans are made.

“They’ll have discussions about that,” Connett said. “We’ll get him back to the U.K. He’ll fly home Wednesday and the team will make plans from there.”

Connett also saddled Godolphin filly Creative Flair to a fourth-place finish in the $700,000 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational on Saturday for the same connections.

Yibir’s victory provided another meaningful stakes triumph on the NYRA circuit for Appleby and Godolphin, who ran one-two in the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game on June 5 at Belmont Park and Grade 1 Diana on July 17 at Saratoga with Althiqa and Summer Romance. The good run of form for Appleby in North America was also on display when Walton Street captured Saturday’s Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine Racetrack.

“It was a huge day for the team,” Connett said. “Charlie’s horses have been in good form. We’ve been very fortunate to have such good horses that can handle the ship out here and win.”

(Trainer Chad Brown / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Shantisara registers 93BSF in Jockey Club Oaks Invitational score; Domestic Spending works in company

Chad Brown trainees Shantisara and Higher Truth put on a show in Saturday’s $700,000 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational with the Irish-bred fillies running one-two in the 11-furlong inner turf test to conclude the Turf Triple series for sophomore fillies.

Michael Ryan, Jeff Drown and Team Hanley’s Higher Truth, piloted by Jose Ortiz, set a moderate tempo with Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Robert V. LaPenta’s Shantisara stalking outside in second position under Flavien Prat over the firm turf.

Higher Truth kicked on at the top of the lane but could not fend off her stablemate, who earned the half-length score in a final time of 2:16.91.

“It was a really good race and it’s a shame one of them had to lose because they both ran their hearts out. I was proud of both of their efforts,” Brown said.

Shantisara, by Coulsty, made her first five starts in France before being transferred to Brown and making her North American debut with a runner-up effort in the Boiling Springs in June at Monmouth Park. She entered from a convincing three-length score under Prat in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Pucker Up in August at Arlington Park.

Higher Truth competed in all three legs of the Turf Triple, missing by a half-length when third in the Belmont Oaks and was a game second, defeated less than a length, in the Saratoga Oaks.

Brown said he would speak with the ownership groups of both horses to see if they want to race once more this season.

Peter Brant and e Five Racing Thoroughbreds’ So Enchanting, a 3-year-old daughter of More Than Ready, graduated at fifth asking on the Saturday undercard to improve her record to 5-1-3-1.

With Irad Ortiz, Jr. up, the Kentucky-bred chestnut stalked in fourth position in the 1 1/16-mile turf test before engaging with pacesetter Miss Bonnie T at the eighth pole, taking command in the final sixteenth for a three-quarter length score.

So Enchanting, who was stretching out beyond one mile for the first time, has kept good company through five starts, including runner-up efforts sprinting six furlongs on the Belmont turf to launch her career, finishing in front of eventual stakes winners Bay Storm [on October 3] and Miss Brazil [on October 25].

“We always thought she had plenty of ability,” Brown said. “She stretched out nicely to a mile and a sixteenth which was good to see. She got a great trip yesterday. I was happy for her to break through and get the maiden win out of the way.”

Peter Brant’s multiple Grade 1-winner Raging Bull closed to finish third under Frankie Dettori in Saturday’s Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, contested over good going on the E. P. Taylor Turf Course.

“He didn’t really handle the course. Frankie said he was struggling a little bit on the turn and lost some position there,” Brown said. “I was proud of him that the kicked in again when he got to the center of the track in the stretch. He found some firmer ground and kicked on.”

Raging Bull, a 6-year-old French-bred son of Dark Angel, boasts a record of 21-7-4-4 with purse earnings in excess of $1.6 million.

“If he comes out of it well I’m planning on making the final start of his career in the Breeders’ Cup Mile,” Brown said.

Klaravich Stables’ Domestic Spending and the Brant-owned Flop Shot breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 in company Sunday on the Belmont inner turf.

Domestic Spending, a three-time Grade 1-winner, finished second last out in the Grade 1 Mr. D. on August 14 at Arlington Park. Brown said the 4-year-old Kingman gelding is likely to make his next start in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf in November at Del Mar.

“They went fine. It was a good work for both of them,” Brown said.

Flop Shot, a 5-year-old son of New Approach, won the 2019 Group 3 Prix de Guiche in France for his former conditioner Andre Fabre. He last raced in June 2020, finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Fort Marcy.

Brown said Flop Shot was gelded earlier this year and is close to a return to action.

Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister’s impressive maiden winner Jack Christopher breezed five-eighths in company in 1:01.05 Saturday on the main track in preparation for the Grade 1 $500,000 Champagne, a one-turn mile offering a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

The Munnings chestnut, purchased for $135,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale, registered a 92 Beyer for a romping 8 3/4-length score on debut in a six-furlong maiden special weight on August 28 at Saratoga.

“He went well in company with a maiden. He’s done everything right and settled into Belmont nicely,” Brown said.

Brown said the added distance shouldn’t be an issue for the talented chestnut.

“It’s still just one turn, so I think he’ll be OK. I like the way he’s training,” Brown said.

Peter Brant and Robert V. LaPenta’s graded-stakes placed Miles D breezed a bullet half-mile in 47.84 Saturday in Saratoga on the Oklahoma dirt training track.

A maiden winner in June at Belmont, the Curlin sophomore followed with a runner-up effort to Dynamic One in the nine-furlong Curlin and was third last out in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers.

Brown said Miles D will not start in next weekend’s Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby and that he will look for other options.

“I’m not sure what I’m going to do with him yet. I’d like to give him a little bit more time,” Brown said.

Klaravich Stables’ Public Sector worked a half-mile in 49.12 Saturday on the Oklahoma dirt training track. Brown said the Kingman sophomore, who won the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame and the Grade 3 Saranac at the Spa this summer, is probable for the Grade 2, $400,000 Hill Prince, a nine-furlong turf test for 3-year-olds on October 23.

W.S. Farish homebred Royal Flag, a 5-year-old multiple graded-stakes winning daughter of Candy Ride, worked a half-mile in 48.70 Saturday on the Oklahoma dirt training track.

Royal Flag won the Grade 3 Shuvee in July and closed to finish third in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign in August this summer at the Spa.

Brown said the chestnut, who sports a ledger of 11-5-3-2 with purse earnings of $435,520, will point to either the Grade 2, $250,000 Beldame on October 10 at Belmont or the Grade 1 Spinster on October 10 at Keeneland, which offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

“This will be her last year of running. She’s at the top of her game right now as a 5-year-old,” Brown said. “It would be nice to get her a Grade 1.”

(Life Is Good / Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita)

Life Is Good breezes for G2 Kelso; Malathaat to train up to G1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher worked graded stakes winner Life Is Good a half-mile over the Belmont training track Saturday in preparation for Saturday’s Grade 2, $300,000 Kelso Handicap, a one-turn mile for 3-year-olds and up.

Owned by CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm, the son of leading sire Into Mischief recorded his four-furlong move in 48.46 seconds over a fast main track – the 17th fastest of 132 recorded works at the distance. This was a second work back for Life Is Good following a game runner-up effort in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial, where he engaged in a dramatic stretch duel with Jackie’s Warrior, coming up a neck shy of victory.

“I thought he worked super,” Pletcher said. “I was really pleased with the way he went and it looked like he was moving along there really well.”

Unbeaten in his previous three efforts, which include victories in the Grade 3 Sham and Grade 2 San Felipe at Santa Anita this winter, Life Is Good will see an increase in ground from the seven-furlong H. Allen Jerkens.

“I think it’s a good progression for him coming off the layoff and the one seven-eighths race.”

Pletcher also worked three-time Grade 1-winner Malathaat Saturday, who went an easy half-mile in 49.49 seconds over the Belmont training track in her first breeze since winning the Grade 1 Alabama on August 19 at Saratoga.

Pletcher said the Shadwell Stable-owned daughter of Curlin will train up to the Grade 1, $3 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff on November 6 at Del Mar.

“It was her first work back and she did it well,” Pletcher said. “Her energy level is really good at the moment. We plan on training up to the Breeders’ Cup.”

Also returning to the work tab for Pletcher was Repole Stable, St. Elias Stable and Gainesway Stable’s Wit, who was second after stumbling at the start of the Grade 1 Hopeful on September 6 at Saratoga.

The son of freshman stallion Practical Joke went a half-mile in 49.93 over the Belmont training track and will target the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne on October 2 – a “Win And You’re In” qualifier for the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on November 5 at Del Mar.

“He worked well,” Pletcher said. “Hopefully, we get a little cleaner break this time. It certainly hurt his chances, he fell on his head leaving there, but I thought he ran on courageously after that.”

Pletcher said Bass Stables homebred Annapolis, who broke his maiden on debut going two turns over Saratoga’s inner turf by 4 ½ lengths, will target the Grade 2, $200,000 Pilgrim on October 3 at Belmont Park.

(Gufo / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

Gufo breezes for G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic

Otter Bend Stables’ Gufo breezed an easy half-mile in 52 flat over the Belmont Park inner turf Sunday in preparation for the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on October 9.

Trained by Christophe Clement, the son of Declaration of War was a last-out winner of the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer Invitational on August 28 at Saratoga, where he fended off a stretch rally from the Aidan O’Brien-trained multiple Group 1-winner Japan.

“It was an easy work on his own on the turf,” Clement said. “We’ll work him back on the turf next week to be a little more aggressive. He looked good.”

Never off the board in a dozen starts, Gufo commenced his 4-year-old campaign with a second-place finish beaten a nose in the Grade 1 Man o’ War before rallying from 17 lengths off the pace to finish third beaten four lengths to Domestic Spending in the Grade 1 Manhattan.

Gufo, who captured the Grade 1 Belmont Derby and Grade 1 Hollywood Derby last year, regained his winning form when stretching out to 1 ½ miles under regular rider Joel Rosario for the Grand Couturier on July 5 at Belmont where he added blinkers for the first time.

Clement said Gufo has shown improvement when adding blinkers.

“He was a bit more aggressive than usual last time, but it all worked out,” Clement said. “I think it’s always a question of pace. Wherever Joel is comfortable, I’m happy usually. Blinkers on gives him a little more cruising speed. Joel never had to hit him, and the horse was a bit more consistent in the stretch. He wasn’t erratic like sometimes he can be. He looked better.”

Gufo will attempt to become the fourth horse in the past decade to sweep the Sword Dancer-Joe Hirsch double, joining Channel Maker [2020], Main Sequence [2014] and Point of Entry [2012].

On Saturday, Clement saddled Soldier Rising to a runner-up finish to Yibir in the Jockey Club Derby Invitational. The son of Frankel raced along the hedge in fourth down the backstretch with a ground-saving trip and launched his bid once finding racing room in upper stretch, finishing 2 ½ lengths behind Yibir.

He was second in his previous outing in the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational on August 7 at the Spa, where he was a rallying second to Irish invader State of Rest.

“He ran really well. He looked good and came back from his race in good shape,” Clement said. “He’s a very nice horse. We just have to keep him sound. We’ll run him maybe once or twice more, but I’m not sure where yet. Then we should have a very nice horse for next year.”

Clement shipped two-time allowance winner La Dragontea to Woodbine Racetrack for a victory in the Grade 2 Canadian on Saturday. The Lope de Vega dark bay or brown filly displayed stalking tactics while under a strong hold by Rosario down the backstretch. Rosario did not coax his filly until mid-stretch, where she extended her advantage to a one-length score.

La Dragontea, owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Rebecca Hillen, captured her North American debut with a wire-to-wire score in a Belmont allowance at 1 ¼ miles before finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Robert Dick Memorial at Delaware Park. Prior to the Canadian, she defeated optional claiming company over a yielding Mellon turf at Saratoga.

“She’s a nice filly,” Clement said. “She was a bit unlucky when I ran her in the stakes at Delaware as the turf was very soft that day. She won yesterday nicely. It gives you an idea of the level of racing at Belmont when you think she was in her conditions. She is an improving kind of a filly.