March 23, 2023

World Approval, Ribchester lead respective teams in Breeders’ Cup Mile

World Approval was a flashy winner of the Dixie Stakes (G2) on Preakness Day 2017 (Photos by Z)

North America and Europe are evenly represented with seven runners apiece in Saturday’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), but much of the focus will be on the leading candidate for each side.

World Approval leads the home defense. The gray gelding, trained by Mark Casse, has won four-of-five this season, including back-to-back Grade 1 scores in the Fourstardave H. and the Woodbine Mile. His only loss this season occurred over 1 1/4 miles in the Manhattan (G1).

Ribchester, Europe’s leading older miler all season, will be making his final start at Del Mar. The Godolphin-owned four-year-old has earned top-level scores in the Lockinge (G1), Queen Anne (G1), and Prix du Moulin (G1), and bravely ran second in the Sussex (G1) in boggy conditions. The quicker footing expected on Saturday figures to help him if he bounces back two weeks after a runner-up placing in the Queen Elizabeth II (G1).

Also invading from Europe is the three-year-old filly Roly Poly, a triple Group 1 winner this year in the Falmouth, Prix Rothschild, and Sun Chariot. Most of the others already have experience in the U.S. Lancaster Bomber has just one career win in 13 starts, but finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) a year ago and in the Woodbine Mile to World Approval. Sudois, meanwhile enters off a 9-1 upset of the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) over Heart to Heart and Ballagh Rocks.

Other leading U.S. candidates include front-running types Midnight Storm, third in the Mile at Santa Anita a year ago, the aforementioned Heart to Heart, and Blackjackcat. The first two named drew the two inside posts and figure to ensure a hot pace.