SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Godolphin and Charlie Appleby, who have already teamed up to win a pair of New York Grade 1s this year with Althiqa, could be invading once again with the talented Yibir, who upset Wednesday’s Group 2 Great Voltigeur at York Racecourse on opening day of the Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
A homebred son of Dubawi and full-brother to triple Group 1 winner and Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf runner-up Wild Illusion, the sophomore upset the 12-furlong, left-handed affair, defeating the well-regarded trio of High Definition, Sir Lucan and Royal Ascot-winning stablemate Kemari.
The second edition of the $1 million Jockey Club Derby, over the same 1½-mile distance, is scheduled for September 18 at Belmont Park. The contest is the third and final leg of the Turf Triple series for males, offering a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1, $4 million Longines Turf in November at Del Mar.
The inaugural edition of the Jockey Club Derby was won by eventual multiple Group 2 winner Spanish Mission, defeating a field that included Grade 1 winner Henley’s Joy, future Grade 1 winner Digital Age and Tone Broke, winner of two-thirds of the Canadian Triple Crown. Due to pandemic-related circumstances, the race was not contested in 2020.
The Great Voltigeur has a storied history of unveiling quality Group 1 horses, producing future champions Alleged, Cracksman and Rainbow Quest, as well as four subsequent Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic victors [Fantastic Light, Rewilding, Postponed and Old Persian] and a Group 1 Melbourne Cup winner, Cross Counter.
The 1999 and 2001 winners Fantastic Light and Milan, completed the exacta in the 2001 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf. The race often produces a top contender for the Group 1 St Leger, the third leg of the English Triple Crown, but geldings are not permitted, which is one of the reasons Yibir is possible to head stateside.
“I’ve got him in the Irish St Leger, but I’d say we’re potentially looking to make our way to America for the Jockey Club [Derby],” Appleby said. “That’s the plan at the moment, but we’ll let the dust settle, as they say.
“We’re very pleased with him and have always liked him,” Appleby continued. “It’s 3-year-olds over a mile and a half on the turf, which I think he takes a lot of experience there as a horse. As we know, he’s not missed a beat this year and full credit to him. He’s got some constitution. He doesn’t miss a gallop and doesn’t miss a run. He hasn’t travelled internationally yet, but he’s had plenty of mileage on him going around [England], so far. The plan is for him hopefully to be one of those exciting international campaigners.”
Kemari was a bit of a disappointment on Wednesday as one of the favorites, checking in last of eight in his fourth start. The Group 2 Queen’s Vase winner is also a gelding and Appleby said he could be stamping his passport, as well.
“It was a little bit disappointing, and he didn’t gallop out. He didn’t finish off the race showing that a step up in trip would be good,” Appleby said. “We’ve penciled in to potentially go to America after this trip, but we’ll see what comes out with Kemari. I’m a big disappointed, but I’m not too worried. He’ll come back.”
Yibir has more than double the experience of Kemari, winning for the fourth time in 10 starts on Wednesday. Two starts prior, he was an ultra-impressive winner of the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket over 13 furlongs. James Doyle, aboard Wednesday, is undefeated on the 3-year-old bay charge, including both group wins and his maiden win last August over seven furlongs.
NYRA Press Release
Photo: Ridden by Jamie Spencer, Spanish Mission (#8 outside), winner of the inaugural Jockey Club Invitational, in 2019, duels with Pedro Cara (FR) (#4 inside) with Tony Piccone up, to win by a nose. (Chelsea Durand)