British-bred Yibir highlighted a sterling weekend for breeding colossus Godolphin, winning Saturday’s $1 million Black-Type Jockey Club Derby Invitational – the final leg of the New York Racing Association’s Turf Triple series.
This last-to-first outing over the 1 ½-mile Widener turf course at Belmont Park earned Yibir a berth in the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar. Chris Connett, the traveling assistant to trainer Charlie Appleby, said the 3-year-old gelding will return to Appleby’s Newmarket, England base Wednesday for a look-over.
“They’ll have discussions about that,” Connett told the New York Racing Association about Yibir’s Breeders’ Cup possibilities. “We’ll get him back to the UK. He’ll fly home Wednesday and the team will make plans from there.”
Whatever plans lie in store for Yibir, it’s a good bet distance will factor into said plans. He came into the 12-furlong Jockey Club Derby off a victory in the 12-furlong Group 2 Voltigeur at York. That followed his score in the 1 5/8-mile (13-furlong) Group 3 Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket July 8. This is a horse for a long course.
The more miles, the merrier for Yibir
“He’s a true mile-and-a-half horse and can potentially go further in trip as well,” Connett said. “As was seen yesterday (Saturday), he has a nice turn of food also. He’ll go back out tomorrow morning for a little trot around and hopefully we’ll see him remain in good spirits.”
Yibir put all his connections in good spirits Saturday. Coasting along in seventh, he let Soldier Rising and Tango Tango Tango set the pace until jockey Jamie Spencer took him outside at the end of the far turn. Then, Yibir displayed a quick turn-of-foot, slingshotting past his rivals at the top of the stretch and crossing the wire in 2:26.23 for the 1 ½ miles.
The 97 Beyer Speed Figure in Yibir’s North American debut sent him to a 2 ½-length victory. It also gave Appleby and Godolphin two Grade 1 winners in a 15-minute span. A quarter-hour before Yibir’s victory, Walton Street won the Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine.
Appleby knows who to ship, who to keep home
This continued an outstanding summer and early fall for Appleby on this side of the Atlantic. In June, Godolphin fillies Althiqa and Summer Romance went 1-2 in the Grade 1 Just a Game at Belmont Park. The following month, they repeated that finish in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga.
“We’ve been very lucky this season, Connett said. “Charlie’s horses have been in great form and he has placed them really well. We had a big winner today and then a Grade 1 winner up in Canada just 15 minutes before, so it’s a great time.”
Yibir’s victory, which paid $7.30 for a $2 win bet, gave him his third victory in seven starts this year (3-1-1). It also gave European horses a sweep of NYRA’s Turf Trio series. Bolshoi Ballet, who finished fourth as the 2.15/1 favorite, won the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational in July. State of Rest captured the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby Invitational in July.