Heading into the halfway point of the 2017 Saratoga Race Course meet, trainer Mark Casse was having such a hard time finding the winner's circle that he asked one of his owners early Saturday afternoon for directions.
Dialing back in distance and skimming easily over good turf after a heavy rainstorm August 12 at Saratoga Race Course, veteran World Approval kicked clear by 2 1/4 lengths to win the $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap (G1T). I saw on paper that he had been on this kind of turf before and he ran really well. "We won the Woodbine Mile last year; I wouldn't mind winning it two years in a row".
While Casse said the rain "didn't hurt my feelings", he noted that World Approval was training exceptionally well going into the Fourstardave.
"If it kept raining and kept raining", Casse said, "I would have thought about it".
Grade 2 $200,000 Adirondack Stakes: Undefeated Pure Silver advanced to graded stakes company for the first time and did so with authority, flashing overpowering early speed and whipping her rivals by 9 ½ lengths to extend her record to 3-for-3. World Approval was coming out of a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Manhattan at 1 1/4 miles. "We haven't done this in awhile", the grinning Casse said. I sensed the pace was good enough because they were fighting for the lead on the first turn. The filly Sassy Little Lila took charge at the break, with Ballagh Rocks on the rail in second, World Approval close in third, and Time Test and Disco Partner next in line. Ballagh Rocks, under Jose Lezcano collared, Sassy Little Lila at the three-sixteenths pole, but World Approval took command outside the eighth pole and drew clear.
The gray failed to find the mark in his next three starts, including a close third as the 5-2 favorite in the GI Northern Dancer S.at Woodbine last September, before starting his 5-year-old season with victories in the Florida-bred Turf Classic S. April 2 at Tampa and GII Longines Dixie S. May 20 at Pimlico. It was his ninth win from 22 career starts.
"When you're running farther, he doesn't get a target. It looked like he loved it".
"I just tried to stay out of trouble and I think that was the key", Franco said. Baeza responded that he would need to be informed 45 minutes in advance, standard notice before a stakes race at Saratoga Race Course. Perhaps this year, World Approval will help propel Casse to a strong second half of the meet.
"Once I got to the spot I wanted to be, just wait there and she did a good job settling on the turn", Velazquez said. "It's frustrating because this is important, this is where I grew up ... so I want to do well".
While World Approval relished the rain-soaked turf, Time Test seem to sputter over it according to his rider Javier Castellano.
Castellano saved all the ground on Time Test before spinning him four wide turning for home. Castellano said horse never changed leads in the stretch. "We couldn't get Julien [Leparoux] and I said to Norman [Casse], 'We're going to win the Fourstardave and I'm not sure who's going to ride him.' It turned out to be Manny; he impresses me". "We knew that this filly is naturally fast and we were going to let her do her thing".