Favourite World Ap­proval runs away with it

Jockey Ve­lazquez con­tin­ues dom­i­nance in $800,000 event with record fifth vic­tory

Toronto Star - - SPORTS - DAN RALPH THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

There’s some­thing about the Ri­coh Wood­bine Mile that def­i­nitely agrees with jockey John Ve­lazquez.

Ve­lazquez rode 2-1 favourite World Ap­proval to an easy 21⁄ 2- length win in the $800,000 turf race Saturday evening at Wood­bine Race­track. It was a record fifth vic­tory for Ve­lazquez in the event.

“That’s awe­some,” Ve­lazquez said. “I guess this race loves me.”

World Ap­proval topped the 12horse field in 1:33.05 on a firm E.P. Tay­lor turf course to earn an auto- matic berth in the Breed­ers’ Cup Mile on Nov. 4 at Del Mar. And World Ap­proval is on a nice roll, hav­ing won two straight races and for the fourth time in five events this year.

World Ap­proval earned Mark Casse — Canada’s top trainer the last six straight years — his sec­ond straight Mile af­ter win­ning last year’s event with filly Tepin. Casse joins Charles LoPresti as the only con­di­tion­ers to cap­ture this event in con­sec­u­tive years.

LoPresti won three straight races (2011-13). The last two came with Ve­lazquez aboard the great Wise Dan, who went on to be­come Amer­i­can thor­ough­bred rac­ing’s horse of the year both years.

“It’s al­ways sweet to win big races but it means more at Wood­bine,” said Casse, who watched Saturday’s race from Florida. “I thought his race was im­pres­sive.

“It’s not ex­actly the way he wants to run. I’ve said all along I think he wants a tar­get but there wasn’t a whole lot of speed and Johnny re- al­ized that and rode him ac­cord­ingly.”

Ve­lazquez had World Ap­proval sit­ting sec­ond be­hind Dragon Bay at the half-mile mark. The five-year-old ef­fort­lessly took the lead with a quar­ter-mile to go and ran un­con­tested to the wire. Lan­caster Bomber was sec­ond ahead of Long On Value. The re­main­der of the field, in or­der of fin­ish, was: Mon­di­al­iste; Arod; Dutch Con­nec­tion; Con­quest Pan­thera; Tower of Texas; Glenville Gar­dens; Best Bard; Deauville; and Dragon Bay.

Casse said World Ap­proval will run at the Breed­ers’ Cup so long as he comes out of Saturday’s race well.

“As long as he’s healthy we are go­ing to the Breed­ers’ Cup,” Casse said. Ve­lazquez earned his first Mile in 2000 with Riviera by a nose over Arka­dian Hero.

He won again five years later aboard Leroidesan­i­maux, fin­ish­ing 73⁄ lengths ahead of Mo­bil.

4 Ve­lazquez rode Wise Dan to a 31⁄ 4- length win over Hun­ters Bay in 2012 be­fore guid­ing his cel­e­brated mount to a 31⁄ 2- length vic­tory over Za Ap­proval in a course-record time of 1:31.75 the fol­low­ing year.

Ve­lazquez could only chuckle when asked if he’d found him­self an­other Wise Dan.

“I hope so,” he said. “He’s a very, very nice horse, I’ll tell you that.”

World Ap­proval cap­tured his 10th win in 23 ca­reer starts. The $480,000 win­ner’s share pushed his ca­reer earn­ings over $1.3 mil­lion.

MICHAEL BURNS/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Jockey John Ve­lazquez rides World Ap­proval to a 2 1⁄2 length win in the Wood­bine Mile on Saturday.

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