Man o' War Stakes 2022: Yibir (GB) comes to claim his prize

Internationally-known trainer Charlie Appleby (pictured) brings his prize turfer, Yibir (GB) back to the U.S. for more prizes. Check out what his chances look like, as Godolphin arrives at Belmont for the Man o' War Stakes on Saturday!
Internationally-known trainer Charlie Appleby (pictured) brings his prize turfer, Yibir (GB) back to the U.S. for more prizes. Check out what his chances look like, as Godolphin arrives at Belmont for the Man o' War Stakes on Saturday!

Race 8: 1 3/8ths (Turf), Man o’ War Stakes (G1), Purse $700k, 4+ (Saturday)

The annual renewal of the Grade 1 Man o’ War celebrates not only the 1st G1 of the season, but its sobriquet reminds us of one of the all-time greats. Looking back over the turf routers that have won this historic contest, it is a who’s who list ... You will find Graham Motion’s Better Talk Now, Christophe Clement’s Gio Ponti, Chad Brown’s Wake Forest (GER), Bill Mott’s Channel Maker, and last year’s victor, Jack Sisterson’s Channel Cat. A win in this race translates to “graded” glory, but it also means that the expectations are even higher. What a race!

Now, let’s find out about this field…


#1 Easter (FR) (Jky: F. Prat/Trn: G. Motion):

Trainer Graham Motion has a pair of runners entered in this year’s race, and this gelding by Exosphere (AUS) has a good bit of Australian stock in his bloodlines. The excellent Madaket Stables is trotting this one out, after most of his races occurred in France at celebrated tracks like Longchamp and Chantilly. The 4-yr-old gelding got his U.S. debut out of the way at Aqueduct against ALLW Co. in mid-April before the Spring Meet came to an end. He was 3rd that day against So High #6. Probably the best news for the connections is Flavien Prat gets the call. It is going to take a major effort for him to hit-the-board, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Grade: B-


#2 Gufo (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: C. Clement):

If there is a runner that can match the Charlie Appleby entry, then it has to be this 5-yr-old horse from the barn of Christophe Clement. Looking over this son of Declaration of War’s form you will find nothing but class. His conditioner gave him extensive Belmont experience last year in races like this one, the Manhattan (G1), and the Turf Classic (G1). This will be his 2nd start of the year, after a score down at Gulfstream Park in the Grade Pan American S. This excellent distance specialist is actually used to going a bit further (1½), but maybe regular man Joel Rosario can figure out when he needs to ask the question. If he is sharp, then this is going to be one heck of a race.

Grade: B+


#3 Yibir (GB) (Jky: W. Buick/Trn: C. Appleby):

Can you believe that this gelding by the great Dubawi (IRE) went off at odds of 9/1 in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar back in November? He won that race with William Buick aboard, besting a strong field … and he did it as a 3-yr-old. A strong shipper, he has a pair of races under his saddle in ’22 … the Sheema Classic (G1) in Dubai (UAE), and the Jockey Club S. (G2) at Newmarket (GB). Both were “misses” … ending up 2nd … so, we can assume that his trainer, Charlie Appleby, has a gameplan to steady the ship. What a talent, and as Godolphin’s #1 conditioner, you can expect nothing short of his best effort, each and every time he enters. Oh, and Buick is coming to ride … winner.

Grade: A-


#4 Abaan (Jky: L. Saez/Trn: T. Pletcher):

The Todd Pletcher trainee is making his way back to the NYRA Circuit after enjoying the warm weather down at Gulfstream Park in Florida. The gelding by Will Take Charge has only one attempt over the Belmont grass, and it was up against ALLW Co. last October. Even though this is a classy horse for Eclipse Thoroughbreds, he is going to have to step-up his game to take on this crowd. The interesting tidbit is Luis Saez really understands what kind of horse he has under him. His greatest weapon is controlling speed, and he must exercise it, if he is going to win this difficult test.

Grade: B


#5 Highland Chief (IRE) (Jky: T. McCarthy/Trn: G. Motion):

The “other” Motion entry has more “Group” experience in Britain and France than his stablemate. The results in those races were mixed at best. What we do know is that he competed against the likes of Mogul and Pyledriver … on several occasions. A homebred, the 5-yr-old by Gleneagles (IRE) came to North America and did not fare too well on debut. After getting pinched at the start in an OC62.5kn2x at Aqueduct, Trevor McCarthy never had a chance to get back in the game against Flop Shot and the gang. Maybe Motion can make the proper adjustments … but this might be just too big an ask.

Grade: B-


#6 So High (Jky: LA Rodriguez-Castro/Trn: N. Chatterpaul):

A former Jonathan Thomas trainee from a few years back, this gelding by Nathaniel (IRE) is an alum of last year’s Man O. At 90/1, he was up against it … to say the least. This time around probably will not be much different for trainer Naipaul Chatterpaul and Luis Rodriguez-Castro. A runner that has some “early” ability, that could be the only aspect that gives this one a chance. There is some other speed signed-on, so expect him to be joined upfront by several other candidates. This one is a long shot … bet accordingly.

Grade: C


Join us Saturday for all of our Belmont Park selections! Should be a great set of races from beautiful Elmont, New York! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter … Horseracing_USA !!!