DEL MAR, CA – Live Oak Plantation’s homebred World Approval continued his turf mile dominance, stalking a hot pace before pouncing to win Saturday’s Grade 1, $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Off well from post 5 under jockey John Velazquez, World Approval sat close to the front between rivals while Midnight Storm led through early fractions of :22.30, :45.65, and 1:10.04. Hitting the top of the stretch three-deep, World Approval rallied to the front and took command shortly before the wire. The Mark Cassee trainee crossed 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Lancaster Bomber in a final time of 1:34.55.
“He seems to always break well, and that was important for us,” Casse said. “(Velazquez) thought we’d get a little speed from the outside, and we did. I was a little nervous about that. When Johnny started asking him to go, it looked like he hesitated just a little bit. But once he got in the clear, he ran on.”
Lancaster Bomber won the photo finish that was needed to find placements for second through 11th. Local turf specialist Blackjackcat nailed third over Suedois, with Ribchester edging out Zelzal for fifth. Karar was a 1/2-length ahead of Om for seventh. Ballagh Rocks nosed out Heart to Heart and Roly Poly. Midnight Storm, Mr. Roary, and Home of The Brave completed the order of finish.
The win was World Approval’s fifth at as many tracks in 2017. The 5-year-old gelded son of Northern Afleet now has career earnings of $2,937,363.
“To win this race, you have to be a great horse, and he proved that today,” Casse said. “Great horses can go and win. When things don’t go their way, they can go and run anywhere and win, and he’s truly a great horse. You can’t train greatness; you just make sure you don’t get in their way.”
World Approval returned $7.40 to win, $4.80 to place, and $3.80 to show. Lancaster Bomber brought back $13.60 to place and $8 to show, while Blackjackcat paid $7.40 to show.