Equibase Analysis: Exciting Man O' War Matchup Looms Between Yibir, Gufo - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Equibase Analysis: Exciting Man O’ War Matchup Looms Between Yibir, Gufo

Yibir wins the Breeders’ Cup Turf

This Saturday's Grade 1, $700,000 Man o' War Stakes field consists of six horses, but that small size doesn't lessen the class which exudes from the few contesting the race.

Yibir (GB) won the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf last November and may be approaching that top form yet again as he comes in from England off a runner-up effort. Gufo missed by a nose in the 2021 Man o' War and enters the race off a win in the Grade 2 Pan American Stakes. Combined, these two exceptional turf runners have won 14 races in 29 starts and earned $5.4 million with more to be added to their career totals after this race has been run.

Abaan is another very consistent runner, with four wins and five runner-up finishes, including a runner-up effort behind Gufo in the Pan American. Both Highland Chief (IRE) and Easter (FR) are making their second U.S. starts after importing from Europe. Both have won non-graded stakes wins and are stepping up in class. So High (GB) rounds out the field, with his best effort at this level having come in last year's Man o'War when he finished fifth of eight and was beaten two lengths by the winner.

Top Contenders:

When Gufo ran in the 2021 Man o'War, he was returning from a 5 1/2-month layoff. Nevertheless, he rallied from 14 lengths back to miss by a nose to Channel Cat, earning a then career-best 114 ™ Equibase® Speed Figure. Three races later, he won the Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga with a new career-best 116 figure. His form faded a bit after that as he only managed third in the Turf Classic Stakes, before a 10th place effort in the Breeders' Cup Turf, won by Yibir (GB).

However, the 2022 Man o'War may have a different ending for Gufo as this time around he has a race in the books. Last month in the Pan American Stakes, Gufo was visually impressive when rallying from fourth with an eighth of a mile to run before inhaling the leader, Abaan (who had rallied earlier in the race), before drawing off easily to win by two lengths. Gufo earned a 113 figure with that win, and so in his second start off the layoff it is highly likely he will run even better and can earn his ninth career win in his 16th start, particularly as jockey Joel Rosario has been aboard for his last seven races including three wins.

Yibir (GB) brings a six for 14 record into this race, the most important of those wins coming when he posted the slight upset at 8 to 1 odds in last year's Breeders' Cup Turf Stakes. Prior to that, Yibir (GB) imported to the U.S. and won the Jockey Club Derby on the Belmont Turf, after winning a Group 2 stakes race in England. He is on the same pattern coming into the Man o'War, having just finished second in the G2 Jockey Club Stakes in England, and he brings along William Buick to ride, who was aboard in his most recent race and in last year's Breeders' Cup Turf. In the Jockey Club Derby Yibir (GB) earned a 116 figure, followed up by a 118 figure in the Breeders' Cup. Considering those match up with the 116 figure Gufo earned last year in the Turf Classic here at Belmont and that Gufo is likely to improve off his 113 figure effort last month, the stretch battle between these two horses could be of epic proportions.

Abaan is a very consistent horse who is not without a chance, but who appears just a cut below the top two. He's won four of eight races on turf in his career and finished second in three others, only missing finishing in-the-money when fourth after suffering from traffic trouble in the Mac Diarmida Stakes in March. Rebounding off that effort, Abaan moved up nicely from third to lead in the stretch by a length in the Pan American Stakes last month, before being run down by Gufo in the final eighth of a mile. Nevertheless, Abaan earned a career-best 111 figure with that effort and might be able to improve off that and make this a more exciting race than it already appears to be.

The rest of the field, with their best representative ™ Equibase® Speed Figures, is Easter (FR) (85), Highland Chief (IRE) (98) and So High (GB) (111).

Win Contenders:
Gufo
Yibir (GB)
Abaan

Man o' War Stakes – Grade 1
Race 8 at Belmont Park
Saturday, May 14 – Post Time 4:46 PM E.T.
One Mile and Three Eighths on Turf
Four Year Olds and Upward
Purse: $700,000

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