World Approval capitalizes on perfect trip in UN

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

July 3rd, 2016

Live Oak Plantation’s homebred World Approval has been knocking on the Grade 1 door of late, and he barged through, with an assist from new rider Florent Geroux, in Sunday’s $300,000 United Nations (G1) at Monmouth Park. The hard-trying gray thus capped a banner weekend for trainer Mark Casse.

It would have been productive enough that the Casse barn clinched a Churchill Downs training title Saturday night. It’s even better that it came with the help of a high-profile juvenile stakes double, courtesy of exciting 2017 Kentucky Derby contender Classic Empire and Oaks prospect Pretty City Dancer.

But Casse’s hot hand continued at Woodbine Sunday, with stakes scores by stable stars Lexie Lou and Conquest Enforcer on the Queen’s Plate undercard. And we haven’t even mentioned champion Tepin, on holiday after her conquest of Royal Ascot, or streaking 2015 Canadian Horse of the Year Catch a Glimpse, who’s expected in Saturday’s Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1).

World Approval’s UN was occurring nearly simultaneously with Lexie Lou’s Dance Smartly (G2), so Casse had to keep one eye on the Monmouth simulcast and one on the scene at Woodbine to keep track of his winners.

You also needed a bigger Monmouth screen to catch a glimpse of the poor starts from 9-5 UN favorite Wake Forest and Triple Threat. Wake Forest appeared to be slowest from the gate from the initial angle, until track announcer Frank Mirahmadi said that Triple Threat walked out. Sure enough, finally emerging into the picture was the maddening Triple Threat, who’s had gate issues in the past, and put himself in a completely untenable position here.

World Approval, on the other hand, couldn’t have drawn up a better scenario in his playbook. Geroux parked him in second, minding longshot pacesetter Cement Clement through slow splits of :24.29, :50.21, 1:14.72, and 1:39.04 on the good course. World Approval summarily dismissed the 75-1 shot turning into the stretch and crossed the wire a 1 1/4-length winner. More impressive, he ripped his final furlong in :11.42, resulting in a final time of 2:14.66 for 1 3/8 miles.

Money Multiplier, also forwardly placed early, kept on gamely for runner-up honors. Wake Forest, who improved midrace, was still at a tactical disadvantage in these circumstances and did creditably to check in third. By that logic, Triple Threat deserves extra credit for just missing third by a half-length. His poor start may have been even costlier than Wake Forest’s, since the latter was always going to be well off the pace. With a halfway decent beginning, the more tactically adaptable Triple Threat could have been in striking range early. In any event, World Approval was still going to get the jump on him.

The UN conditions helped Money Multiplier turn the tables on stablemate Wake Forest, who’d outkicked him convincingly in the Man o’ War (G1). While the pace was slow in both, Wake Forest found it tougher to close the gap on a good course at Monmouth than on Belmont’s firm inner, and the five-pound weight concession didn’t help either. The only real disappointment of the Chad Brown trio was Mr Maybe, who never kicked on from the rear and reported home seventh.

While Brown couldn’t take home another UN trophy, the horseman could take some consolation in the result. From the turf divisional standpoint, the UN flattered the horse who’d manhandled World Approval in the Manhattan (G1) – Juddmonte’s international celebrity Flintshire, who now resides in the Brown barn.

World Approval was coming off a third to Flintshire and Ironicus (another high-class operator who got a form boost here) in the Manhattan. Two starts back, he was just caught by Churchill aficionado Divisidero in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1). The third time in Grade 1 company was the charm. He improved his record to 15-6-2-3, $853,450, reflecting scores in last year’s American Derby (G3), Saranac (G3), and Tampa’s Sophomore Turf for Florida-breds.

But the best news of all about World Approval is his scope to improve with maturity. He's a half-brother to three top turf performers who excelled with age -- champion Miesque's Approval, Revved Up, and Za Approval. If he's like them, anything he achieves this early in his career is a bonus.

Photo courtesy Paige Kelly/Equi-Photo