05/25/2011 3:25PM

Belmont Park: Hibaayeb gets more ground in Sheepshead Bay

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Benoit & Associates
Hibaayeb will be one of the likely favorites in Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Stakes at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Hibaayeb made an immediate impact in this country when she shipped from England to Southern California last fall to win the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon at Hollywood Park. Nearly eight months later, Hibaayeb hopes to make a splash on the East Coast when she heads a field of seven entered for Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Stakes at Belmont Park.

The Sheepshead Bay, run at 1 3/8 miles over the Widener Turf Course, drew a field of seven fillies and mares, including a trio from the Christophe Clement barn.

Hibaayeb, owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Stable, enters the Sheepshead Bay off a third-place finish in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race at Gulfstream on April 2. Though she was sent off the 3-2 favorite, Hibaayeb was running at a distance that was far shorter than she prefers.

“We knew 8 1/2 furlongs was going to be a little short for her, she ran a pretty good race,” said Rick Mettee, Godolphin’s assistant trainer. “She might have got a little tired the last part. We were happy with that race. This was always the logical spring-time goal for her.”

Hibaayeb, who was a Group 2 winner in England before coming to the United States, will break from post 2 under John Velazquez. She will carry high weight of 123 pounds, spotting three to seven pounds to the field.

Mettee said that head trainer Saeed bin Suroor said that Hibaayeb would prefer firm turf.

Clement, a four-time winner of the Sheepshead Bay, sends out the uncoupled trio of Cheetah, Giants Pla,y and Tarrip. Cheetah won an off-the-turf, second-level allowance race at Keeneland on April 23, while Giants Play and Tarrip finished a nose apart while third and fourth, respectively, in the Grade 3 Orchid at Gulfstream Park on March 20.

Belle Watling and Choice Play comprise a Flying Zee Stable-owned, Patrick Biancone-trained entry.

The Sheepshead Bay will go as race 9 on a 10-race program and is the third leg of a late pick-four wager with a guaranteed pool of $300,000.

Penna being patient with ‘Red Hot’

Trainer Angel Penna Jr. isn’t in a hurry to rush Cool Blue Red Hot into stakes company, so don’t expect to see this recent first-level allowance winner targeting the Belmont Stakes. Cool Blue Red Hot, a son of Harlan’s Holiday, rallied strongly from last to win a 1 1/16-mile allowance by one length here May 19. He covered the distance in 1:42.64 and earned a 91 Beyer Speed Figure.

It was Cool Blue Red Hot’s second win, but first this year. He won a two-turn maiden race Nov. 7 at Calder, after getting beat a nose by Buffum in his debut here Oct. 30 when he earned a gaudy 96 Beyer.

“He’s back to his first race,” Penna said Wednesday. “He had a rough winter.”

In his first start this year, Cool Blue Red Hot finished second to Soldat in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race at Gulfstream. While Soldat used that as a springboard to success in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, Cool Blue Red Hot went the wrong way. In his next race, he got all worked up in the paddock and eventually finished fifth behind Arch Traveler.

After a little time off, he came back to finish a late-running third in a seven-furlong allowance race here April 30, before winning 19 days later with another powerful late run.

“The last race was a good race, it wasn’t a Grade 1, but he beat some hard-knocking older horses and he did it the right way,” Penna said.

Penna said he would like to run Cool Blue Red Hot in another allowance race, if possible, but if he can’t find one then he might point to a stakes such as the Grade 2 Dwyer here July 2.

Hushion fillies sidelined

Trainer Mike Hushion was pointing his multiple stakes-winning filly Nicole H to Saturday’s $250,000 My Juliet Stakes at Parx Racing, but was forced to skip the race when the filly developed a temperature. She joins Hushion’s other multiple stakes-winning filly, Harissa, on the sidelines. Harissa, winner of the Barbara Fritchie in February, is out indefinitely with an undisclosed injury.

Nicole H had won her last three races, including the Garland of Roses, Interborough, and Grade 2 Distaff Handicap by identical 2 1/2-length margins.

Hushion said Nicole H would miss at least a week of training and therefore would likely be unable to make the Grade 2, $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap run at Belmont on June 4.

◗ Alan Garcia, who had won with just two of his first 35 mounts at this meet, won two races in 35 minutes Wednesday, guiding Alseera ($8.90) and Bustin Rocks ($3.40) to wins in the third and fourth races, respectively.

◗ Ryan Curatolo, a seven-pound apprentice who won four races Saturday, won Wednesday’s second aboard Mystic Era, giving him 13 wins at this meet.