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Hibaayeb Too Classy in Sheepshead Bay

Hibaayeb top story.
Hibaayeb demonstrated her staying ability with a rail-skimming triumph as the favorite in Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Sheepshead Bay over 1 3/8 miles on Belmont Park’s Widener turf course.


Entering the race for fillies and mares off a third in a 1 1/16-mile turf allowance at Gulfstream Park on April 2, Hibaayeb stalked the pace in third behind pokey fractions of 50.75 and 1:16.10, waited for racing room on the far turn, shot through an opening after pacesetter Belle Watling relinquished the inside, and kicked strongly in the stretch to post a one-length victory. Giants Play held off Cheetah by a neck to finish second.


“I was watching the horse on the lead [Belle Watling] and I know she drifts out,” said winning jockey John Velazquez. “I was hoping when she did drift out, there wouldn’t be somebody to push her back in. Nobody wanted to pass her, so it worked out. I knew as soon as he [jockey Ryan Curatolo] let go, she was going to get out, and sure enough [she did]. It worked out this time.”


Hibayeeb, sent off at 7-5, returned to $4.90 to her backers in the crowd of 6,904. The Godolphin Racing color-bearer completed the 1 3/8-mile trip in 2:15.92.


The slow pace came as no surprise to Rick Mettee, assistant to winning trainer Saeed bin Suroor.


“That’s kind of the way we drew it up. We thought to lay second in there and save all the ground we could,” said Mettee. “It really went slow; they really slowed it down a lot. Luckily, the rail opened when it did. It’s one of the races where she pulled the ultimate perfect trip. Once she got up the inside, as slow as they were going, it was going to be hard to outfinish her off those fractions.”


Hibaayeb has now won half her starts in North America, having captured the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon at Hollywood Park in October and finishing eighth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs in November. Prior to her arrival in the United States, Hibaayeb had won two stakes at Ascot in England, taking the 2009 Group 1 Meon Valley Stud Fillies Mile and the 2010 Group 2 Ribblesdale.


Bred in Great Britain by Rabbah Bloodstock Limited, Hibaayeb is now 4-2-3 from 14 starts. The 4-year-old daughter of Singspiel earned $90,000 for her Sheepshead Bay victory, pushing her bankroll to $615,316.


Belle Watling faded to fourth, with Tarrip and La Luna de Miel completing the order of finish. Choice Play, who formed a coupled entry with Belle Watling, was scratched.





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