In a finish harking back to the Godolphin-Coolmore clashes of old, Yibir uncorked a gigantic late move to deny Broome in Saturday’s $3.68 million Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). The Godolphin homebred capped a three-win Breeders’ Cup for trainer Charlie Appleby, jockey William Buick, and sire Dubawi, in course-record time at Del Mar.
While stablemates Modern Games in Friday’s Juvenile Turf (G1) and Space Blues in Saturday’s Mile (G1) had raced in striking range, Yibir was anchored near the rear of the 14-horse Turf field. Behind him was defending champion Tarnawa, the 2.10-1 favorite, who was ultimately unable to make an impact.
With two confirmed front-runners in the field, the only question was which one would take command. Tribhuvan beat Acclimate for that position through an opening quarter in :23.16. The two established separation from the rest of field as Tribhuvan posted :48.38, 1:12.41, and 1:36.76.
The pack caught up by the far turn, when Acclimate began to retreat. Channel Maker and Bolshoi Ballet were on the march, and Japan was trying to improve in traffic. But Broome was sweeping wider out to overhaul the vanguard swinging into the stretch.
Yibir, who had been pulling early, was happy to be turned loose on that final bend. Motoring down the lane, he still had five lengths to make up at the eighth-pole, but erased the deficit and then some. Yibir won going away by a half-length while completing 1 1/2 miles in 2:25.90, lowering the mark of 2:26.19 set by Godolphin’s Talismanic in the 2017 Turf.
“To be honest with you, I thought he was doing too much,” Buick said. “But then once we turned into the back he dropped and he was in a good mile and a half steady rhythm, and I was just hoping that he stayed there for the finish because he’s got an amazingly strong finish.
“Halfway around the home turn I could see Broome had gone, but I was always confident of picking him up. He’s been an amazing turn of foot and I couldn’t pull him up after the line.”
“It was a hard ride for William,” Appleby said. “I could see he was really taking William on. And as William quite rightly said, to still have that finish in him, it just, it’s just shows what sort of an engine he’s got there.”
Yibir was earning the Breeders’ Cup garland that eluded his full sister, multiple Group 1 heroine Wild Illusion, the runner-up in the 2018 Filly & Mare Turf (G1). Both are by Dubawi and out of the stakes-winning Monsun mare Rumh, who has also produced stakes scorer Really Special and Group 3-placed Ceratonia.
Broome excelled himself under Irad Ortiz, who picked up the mount when fellow Ballydoyle hope Bolshoi Ballet drew in from the also-eligible list. Frankie Dettori, originally named on Broome, switched to Bolshoi Ballet. Ryan Moore was on Japan no matter what.
British filly Teona stayed on for third, 1 1/2 lengths clear of Japan who again managed to find a spot of trouble rounding the far turn. Channel Maker reported home fifth. Sixth-placer Bolshoi Ballet had his stamina limitations underscored. Sisfahan, at the back early with Yibir and Tarnawa, passed a few rivals into seventh. Rockemperor, Godolphin’s secondary hope Walton Street, Gufo, Tarnawa, Astronaut, Tribhuvan, and Acclimate concluded the order under the wire. Domestic Spending and United were scratched due to setbacks, while Mogul and Friar’s Road, the two remaining also-eligibles, stayed in the barn.
An 8.50-1 chance, Yibir paid $19 after recording his first Grade 1 tally.
“That was the icing on the cake, really,” Appleby said of the Turf coup. “We felt this horse had a lot of talent. He was galloping really good with all our three-year-old middle distance horses, and he’s gone and finished it off today.”
Indeed, putting it all together had been the issue earlier this season for Yibir, whom Buick described as “a bit of a complex character.” Gelded after placings in the Sandown Classic Trial (G3) and Cocked Hat at Goodwood, Yibir promptly won the Bahrain Trophy (G3) at Newmarket. But he was so hard to control in the Gordon (G3) back at Goodwood that he took off prematurely and folded to sixth.
Yibir donned a hood for the Great Voltigeur (G2) at York and scored in driving fashion from off the pace. He followed up even more impressively at Belmont Park in the Sept. 18 Jockey Club Derby, a “Win and You’re In” for the Turf. Now riding a three-race winning streak, he sports a mark of 12-6-1-2 and earnings in the vicinity of $2.9 million.
Appleby is already targeting the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) on 2022 World Cup night, with a Breeders’ Cup title defense on the radar at Keeneland.