Live Oak Plantation’s homebred World Approval flaunted his class courtesy of a textbook stalk-and-pounce trip in Saturday’s $250,000 Dixie (G2) at Pimlico. Rerouted to Preakness Day after scratching on Derby Day at Churchill Downs, the 5-2 favorite traveled like the winner at every stage before kicking 2 1/4 lengths clear.
World Approval represented the team of trainer Mark Casse and jockey Julien Leparoux, who one race later suffered an agonizing defeat with Classic Empire in the Preakness (G1). But in the Dixie, World Approval was the one inflicting the heartbreak, becoming a millionaire with $1,103,763 in earnings from a record of 20-8-2-4.
As the rail-drawn Security Risk strolled through fractions of :2.12, :49.43, and 1:13.94 on a course rated good, World Approval was poised to strike in second. The gray scampered away on cue, zipping his last sixteenth in :5.87 to finish 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.15.
Projected, the slight second choice at 7-2, was second best by the same 2 1/4-length margin. Blacktype got up for third over the hampered Catapult, who had a rough time of it particularly when checking on the backstretch. Security Risk faded to seventh, and the disappointment of the race was the 7-2 Ring Weekend in a non-threatening last of 10.
The Florida-bred World Approval is by Northern Afleet and out of the prolific With Approval mare Win Approval, the dam of four turf millionaires and one champion. He is bred to improve with age, as did his famous half-brothers – Miesque’s Approval, the 2006 champion turf horse, and fellow grassy millionaires Revved Up and Za Approval. The fact that he was already a multiple Grade 3 winner as a sophomore in the American Derby (G3) and Saranac (G3), and scooped up a prize as valuable as last year’s United Nations (G1) at four, boded well for the future.
After opening his five-year-old campaign with a ready victory over state-breds in the April 7 Florida Cup Turf Classic at Tampa, World Approval was a prime threat to go one better than his runner-up effort in the 2016 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1). But he didn’t get the opportunity due to course conditions, with connections believing the rain-softened ground at Churchill was against him. World Approval may get another chance to improve on last year’s resume. Third to future turf champ Flintshire in the 2016 Manhattan (G1), World Approval is a logical player to turn up again on Belmont Day, June 10.