Grade I winner Hibaayeb used her class edge to help secure her first victory of the season, as she defeated five rivals to take the $150,000 Sheepshead Bay (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) May 28 at Belmont Park.
Godolphin’s 4-year-old daughter of Singspiel stalked the pace patiently from the inside for most of the way, then scooted through an opening along the rail in upper stretch to take command under John Velazquez. They held off Giants Play to win by one length, covering 1 3/8 miles on the firm turf in 2:15.92.
Saeed bin Suroor trains Habaayeb, who finished third in an optional claimer at Gulfstream Park in April in her season debut.
The dark bay/brown filly was bred by Rabbah Bloodstock in England, where she was a group I and group II winner. She also won the grade I Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita last October in her first start in the United States.
Sent off as the 7-5 favorite, Hibaayeb was able to follow Chilean-bred star Belle Watling around for most of the way, saving ground all the while. She raced in third while Belle Watling posted fractions of :24.58, :50.75, 1:116.10, and 1:40.48 for a mile. Tarrip pressed the pace.
Belle Watling turned for home still holding the lead, but Hibaayeb was in perfect position to slip through an opening when they entered the final furlong. She grabbed the lead from the pacesetter and then held off the challenge of Giants Play in the stretch to notch the fourth win of her career.
Giants Play and Rajiv Maragh were a neck in front of a rallying Cheetah for second. Belle Watling settled for fourth.
"I was watching the horse on the lead (Belle Watling) and I know she drifts out," Velazquez said. "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.”
Hibaayeb was making her fourth start in the U.S. after running 10 times in Europe. She finished eighth in the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I) in November at Churchill Downs to complete her 3-year-old season. As a juvenile, she won the Meon Valley Sud Fillies Mile (Eng-I) at Ascot.
"It’s one of the races where she pulled the ultimate perfect trip," assistant trainer Rick Mettee said. "Once she got up the inside, as slow as they were going, it was going to be hard to outfinish her off those fractions. They were running the last part, but she obviously was running, too. It was a pretty straightforward race.”
Hibaayeb has earned $615,316 from 14 lifetime starts. She is out of the Lion Cavern mare Lady Zonda.
The winner paid $4.90, $3.10, and $2.40. The exacta (3-2) returned $26 and the trifecta (3-2-4) was worth $76.
Tarrip finished fifth, followed by La Luna de Miel. Choice Play was scratched.