10/02/2010 7:53PM

European shipper Hibaayeb relishes firm California turf


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Hibaayeb may have earned a trip to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs next month after winning Saturday’s $250,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Hollywood Park.

The Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon Stakes was a Win and You’re In race for the BC Filly and Mare Turf on Nov. 5, and Claire Sparkes, who accompanied the filly from England to California on behalf of trainer Saeed bin Suroor, said the Churchill Downs race is a possibility.

The Yellow Ribbon Stakes was Hibaayeb’s first win since the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, ending a span of three disappointing losses in which she finished 15th and seventh twice in Group 1 races in Ireland, Germany, and England.

The difference on Saturday was California’s firm turf course, Sparkes said.

“She just loves the ground,” Sparkes said.

Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Hibaayeb ($8.60) closed from fourth in a field of nine to win the Yellow Ribbon by a length over Turning Top. Hibaayeb ran 1 1/4 miles on turf in 2:00.44.

Gypsy’s Warning, the 2-1 favorite, finished third, followed by Sweet and Flawless, Restless Soul, Princess Taylor, Princess Haya, Go Forth North, and Lilly Fa Pootz.

Bejarano had Hibaayeb two to three lengths behind pacesetter Gypsy’s Warning on the backstretch, racing three-wide. The trip left Sparkes confident the filly would finish well.

“I was very happy with that position because she stays a mile and a half,” Sparkes said.

Hibaayeb trailed by two lengths with a furlong remaining and made steady progress in the final furlong while racing wide.

Hibaayeb races for Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Racing. A 3-year-old filly by Singspiel, Hibaayeb has won 3 of 11 starts and $519,871. All of her wins have come in graded stakes – the Group 1 Fillies Mile at Ascot in September 2009 and the Ribblesdale Stakes earlier this year.