World Approval and Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez made the lead five-eighths of a mile out and opened up to win the US$657,312, Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile by 2-1/2 lengths at Woodbine Race Course in Toronto, Canada on Sept. 16.
Racing in the colors of Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation, the 5-year-old gelding established himself as one if the favorites in the Nov. 4 running of the $2 million, Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile at Del Mar Turf Club.
Mrs. Weber, a Campbell Soup heiress and former resident of Philadelphia, bred World Approval at her Live Oak Stud. He is by Northern Afleet from the With Approval mare Win Approval.
The Ricoh Mile was the grey's second straight in stakes company. He and trainer Mark Casse took home the trophies from Saratoga's Grade 1 Fourstar Dave Stakes in mid-August.
The Ricoh Mile, in which he bested 11 rivals while carrying high weight of 124 pounds, was World Approval's 10th win from 23 career starts. The winner's check for US$393,600 raised he career earnings over $1.8 million.
He ran the mile in 1:33.05 seconds on a firm turf course around one turn to give Velazquez his fifth win in the Woodbine Mile.
The two-turn configuration of the Del Mar turf course should prove no problem For World Approval. He won the Fourstar Dave around two turns.
After riding the Woodbine rail to the win, Velazquez said, “I was hoping when he switched (changed leads) down the lane and I asked, he would respond. That's exactly what he did. He was ready.”
Casse, who was shopping for horses at the Keeneland Sale and missed the Woodbine Mile, was asked by telephone about his chances in the Breeders' Cup Mile. His response: “I wouldn't change places with anybody.”
At Belmont Park...
Uni, a 3-year-old filly bred in England, challenged the pace-setting La Coronel and got up in the final strides to win the $400,000, Grade 2 Sands Point at a mile and furlong on the Inner Turf Course.
The Sands Point was the first graded stakes on the Belmont fall fixture card.
Carrying the colors of Saratoga's leading owner Michael Dubb and his partners, Head of the Plains Partners, Robert LaPenta and Bethlehem Stables; Uni earned the third win of the afternoon for both trainer Chad Brown and jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.
After finishing second in Saratoga's Lake Placid Stakes and third in the Belmont Oaks Invitational, Uni scored her third career win from nine starts.
The NYRA's $240,000 winner's purse raised Uni's career earnings to $462,000 after she ran the nine furlongs in 1:48.97 over a firm turf course.
Trainer Brown was elated with his filly's race saying “...she maybe got held up a touch here and there and had to make a run, but, man, this horse has some kick. She's an exciting horse for the future.”
That future, according to Brown, could be at Keenland's Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth, II Stakes on October 14.
At Churchill Downs...
The host track for the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby added a fall meeting to its schedule this year. Therefore, is it not logical that they would further elongate the qualifying process for the 2018 Kentucky Derby (and the companion Kentucky Oaks)?
With the 2018 Derby 230 days away, Churchill moved the $150,000, Grade 3 Iroquois for 2-year olds and the $200,000, Grade 2 Pocahontas for 2-year-old fillies to Saturday, Sept. 16.
The Iroquois, won by Carolyn Wilson's The Tabulator, was the first of 20 races worth 10 points each to the winners (and then 4, 2, and 1 through fourth place) through mid-February.
The “Kentucky Derby Championship Series” starts in February and concludes in mid-April with seven races worth 50 points to the winner, seven races with a 100 point reward and two races with a 20 point top. (Keeneland's Lexington and Turfway's Spiral are the 20 point races.)
In addition, seven races are being offered in Europe and three in Japan to allow foreign horses to qualify.
The Tabulator ran 1-1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:45.50 to win the Iroquois and earn his 10 points and keep his record at a perfect 3-for-3.
Craig Upton's Texas-bred Patrona Margarita won the Pocahontas at 23 to 1 to earn 10 Oaks points.
At Parx Racing...
If Keith Jones' post race announcements after the running of the $100,000 Hall of Fame Stakes had the familiar ring of show jumping, that's because the principals are former stars on the grand prix course.
Retired grand prix rider Dorothy Alexander (“D.D.”) Matz, a Pan American Games medalist, bred Ladies' Privilege, the Hall of Fame Stakes' 1-3/4-length winner who is by Harlan's Holiday from the Empire Maker mare Vanquished.
The filly is trained by 1996 Olympic silver medalist Michael Matz who also trained the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro.
After breaking her maiden at Parx in July, Ladies Privilege finished second in an off-the-turf allowance at Laurel on her way back to Parx and her win in the Hall of Fame Stakes, a race in which she earned “Black Type” status.
She ran the 1-1/16 miles in 1:41.42 on a firm Parx turf course.