January 22, 2022

Approval topples the World in Breeders’ Cup Mile

World Approval capped a terrific 5-year-old season with a 1 1/4-length victory in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) (c) Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com

Eleven years after half-brother Miesque’s Approval upset the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Churchill Downs, World Approval dispatched an international cast in Saturday’s $1,840,000 renewal of the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar. Unlike his 24-1 half-sibling, however, World Approval was the deserving 5-2 favorite on a day that was otherwise tough for the market leaders.

The Live Oak Plantation homebred is trained by Mark Casse, who captured the 2015 Mile with star mare Tepin and watched her finish an excellent second last year in her title defense. Formerly a turf router, World Approval reached a new level shortening up to a mile this summer, and his victories in the August 12 Fourstardave (G1) at Saratoga and September 16 Woodbine Mile (G1) made him North America’s leading contender.

As expected, the Breeders’ Cup Mile pace was hot with Midnight Storm blazing a trail from Heart to Heart and Home of the Brave through fractions of :22.30, :45.65, and 1:10.04. World Approval was well placed, nestled a couple of lengths behind them by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, alongside the rail-hugging Lancaster Bomber.

Heart to Heart picked up the baton into the stretch, but by that point, World Approval was in the clear and bearing down. Sweeping past the tiring leader, the gray outkicked Lancaster Bomber and Blackjack Cat among a blanket finish for the minors. Suedois; Ribchester; the troubled Zelzal, who had to steady in midstretch and got room on the rail too late; Karar; Om; Ballagh Rocks; Heart to Heart; Roly Poly; Midnight Storm; Mr. Roary; and Home of the Brave rounded out the order of finish.

World Approval clocked 1:34.55 and presumably wrapped up the Eclipse Award as champion turf horse, with the other principal, Beach Patrol, just denied by France’s Talismanic in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). The five-year-old has now bankrolled 24-11-2-4, $2,937,363, and as a gelding, he’ll be around for some time.

The Florida-bred by Northern Afleet has lifted his dam, the With Approval mare Win Approval, into exalted company. She became the fifth mare to produce multiple Breeders’ Cup winners, following Primal Force, responsible for 1998 Classic (G1) star Awesome Again and 2000 Juvenile (G1) scorer Macho Uno; Hasili, whose daughters Banks Hill (2001) and Intercontinental (2005) each won the Filly & Mare Turf (G1); Sweet Life, who foaled 2004 Juvenile Fillies (G1) queen Sweet Catomine and 2008 Ladies’ Classic (G1) vixen Life Is Sweet; and Leslie’s Lady, the dam of three-time queen Beholder and Friday’s Juvenile Turf (G1) hero, Mendelssohn.


Winning trainer Mark Casse (World Approval)

“I was a little concerned early on because there was so much speed. But, this horse came into this race in just great order and he was ready. Norman (Casse, his son and assistant) and his team deserve so much credit for getting him to this point. This is quite a way to cap our last Breeders’ Cup together (now that Norman is going out on his own). Maybe now we’ll be running in Breeders’ Cups against each other. And, it means so much to win this race for Mrs. (Charlotte) Weber. I am so proud to train horses for her and to win this race for her. This is all really very special.”

Winning jockey John Velazquez (World Approval)

“He was between horses and switched leads coming down the lane. He always had it for me. Horses like him make you look good. He’s been perfect for me.”

Second-place jockey Seamus Heffernan (Lancaster Bomber)

“I had a peach of a position throughout the race and they all knew I was there on the inside. He’s been running well all year. He loves the fast ground.”

Third-place trainer Mark Glatt (Blackjackcat)

“It looked like he had a great shot at the top of the lane. He made that big sweeping move, but was way wide. He had to be because he was wide most of the way coming from the 13 hole. If he’d been able to save some ground that would have helped. But, (jockey) Kent (Desormeaux) did the right thing by swinging him out and going around all of them and then setting him down for the big run.”

Third-place jockey Kent Desormeaux (Blackjackcat)

“What an explosive move he made at the three-eighths pole. He ran his eyeballs out.”

Fourth-place jockey Danny Tudhope (Suedois)

“I was very pleased with his run. We knew it would be a tough assignment and it was. But he gave me everything as usual.”

Fifth-place jockey William Buick (Ribchester)

“I was a little bit disappointed as he came off the bridle a little sooner than I would have expected him to, but he has had a long season.”