WOODBINE Mile gets his Approval
World Approval breaks away from the pack to win $800,000 race and spot in Breeders’ Cup
World Approval is enjoying his new life as a mile specialist.
The six-year-old gelding, who had previously raced over longer distances, captured the $800,000 Woodbine Mile on Saturday and with it, a guaranteed spot in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
He never had run on a flat mile before his previous race, the Fourstardave at Saratoga. And while that was a tracking trip, he was forced into a slightly different tactic at Woodbine.
Ridden by John Velazquez, World Approval broke comfortably from the rail and was travelling with three others, Dragon Bay, Deauville, and Conquest Panthera, at the front of a tight pack. That changed little around the turn with World Approval hemmed on the inside.
“He broke really well,” Velazquez said. “The more I read the form, the more I looked at the horses, nobody seemed to want to be on the lead.”
In the stretch, he took a length from the rest of the field and eased away from his pursuers from there.
“When I asked him to run he responded right away and ran away from the other horses pretty easily,” Velazquez said. “
“Johnny did a beautiful job,” owner Charlotte Weber said. “The horse seemed to be happy where he was and he just stayed there and took the race away.”
The win was the second consecutive score in the Woodbine Mile for trainer Mark Casse, who brought Tepin north last year. Casse was in Kentucky, where yearling sales are currently taking place.
“I’m at central control at Keeneland,” Casse said by phone. “We had horses running everywhere but at the last moment, I decided not to come.”
World Approval, a sixyear-old son of Northern Afleet, had been to Woodbine before, finishing third in last year’s Northern Dancer Turf before ending eighth in the Canadian International. This year, he won a stake at Tampa and the Dixie Stakes at Pimlico. He ran in the Fourstardave after finishing fifth in the Manhattan at Belmont.
Now after some freshening at his home base of Churchill Downs, it’s on to Del Mar and the Breeders’ Cup in November.
“As long as he’s healthy, we’re on to the Breeders’ Cup,” Casse said. “I think he’s good right now.”
“Am I confident we can win? Let’s just say I won’t trade places with anyone.”
Lancaster Bomber, one of two in the race trained by Aidan O’Brien, got up for second. The Bill Motttrained Long On Value ended third followed by 2015 winner Mondialiste. The disappointment in the race was Deauville. The O’Brien trainee, a regular in Group 1 races in England, finished 11th in the 12-horse field.
World Approval (the grey gelding on the right), with jockey John Velazquez aboard, turned it on in the stretch to win the $800,000 Woodbine Mile yesterday.