World Approval Seeks Another Dixie Stakes Victory

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 16th, 2018

One year ago, World Approval won Pimlico’s $250,000 Dixie Stakes (gr. II) by a decisive 2 ¼ lengths, the first of four graded stakes wins during a 2017 campaign that saw him earn an Eclipse Award as North America's champion male grass horse.

That reputation stamps as clearly the horse to beat in the 2018 edition of the Dixie, though the -trained gelding has questions to answer this time around. Unlike last year, when he entered the Dixie off an easy stakes win at Tampa Bay Downs, World Approval will be seeking to rebound from a surprising fifth-place finish as the odds-on favorite in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (gr. I) at two months ago.

And in all likelihood, World Approval will need his best to win his second straight Dixie, as he’ll be facing a strong group of rivals on Saturday. Leading the charge is Divisidero, a six-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy with a handful of big wins under his belt. As a one-dimensional deep closer, Divisidero is usually at the mercy of the early pace and has trouble contending in races that don’t suit his late-running style, but he nevertheless won the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs in both 2016 and 2017, so on his best day, he can hold his own against some of the most talented turf horses in the country. The question is, can he contend for victory in the Dixie while running for the first time since last October and making his first start for new trainer Kelly Rubley?

Just Howard broke his maiden over the Pimlico turf course last year, the first of four straight victories culminating with the Commonwealth Derby (gr. III) at Laurel Park. He finished last in the Hollywood Derby (gr. I) to end his 2017 campaign, but the Graham Motion-trained four-year-old has posted a long serious of workouts in preparation for his return and could be an interesting longshot candidate.

Also seeking to rebound from a subpar effort is Frostmourne, winner of the Penn Mile (gr. II) and Kent Stakes (gr. III) last summer. The son of Speightstown won an allowance race at Gulfstream to kick off his 2018 season but was most recently fifth at a short price in the Maker’s 46 Mile Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland.

The locally-based pair of O Dionysus and Doctor Mounty will be longshots in the Dixie, though both are accomplished stakes competitors and O Dionysus won an allowance race over the Pimlico turf course on May 10th. Completing the field are Unbridled Juan, a graded stakes-placed runner shipping in from Woodbine, and Fire Away, winner of the Danger’s Hour Stakes at Aqueduct last month.

The Dixie Stakes is the seventh race on Pimlico’s Saturday card, with a projected post time of 2:07 p.m. Eastern.