World Approval sets sights on Secretariat after American Derby win
World Approval earned his first graded stakes victory with a hard-fought neck decision in Saturday's $100,000 American Derby (G3) and will now head to the August 15 Secretariat (G1) over the same Arlington turf course as one of the top contenders.
Favored at even-money among seven sophomores, World Approval tracked pacesetter Nun the Less in second until surging to the lead leaving the far turn. Crittenden rallied boldly into contention in midstretch and nearly drew even late, but World Approval gamely repulsed the challenge to prevail.
"I felt very confident all the way and he galloped well all the way and when I asked him at the quarter and then I opened it up a little early," jockey Jose Lezcano said. "He had a good kick and he went to win the race. He is very good."
"I'm really happy with him," trainer Mark Casse added. "I'm not sure that's exactly the way he wants to run, but good horses can overcome things. There was no pace, so we employed a different strategy. Hopefully there's a little more pace next time so he can come with a later run.
"He got it done and we plan on being back on August 15 (for the Secretariat). Good horses win when they have to make changes to get it done."
A Live Oak Plantation homebred, World Approval dropped his first two starts on dirt as a juvenile before switching to turf and opening his three-year-old season with a maiden special weight tally at Gulfstream Park on March 15. He came back three weeks later to capture the restricted Sophomore Turf at Tampa Bay Downs and followed with a rallying third in his graded debut, the May 2 American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs.
A gelded son of Northern Afleet, World Approval was exiting a decent fourth, beaten 1 3/4 lengths, against a solid field in the May 30 Pennine Ridge at Belmont Park.
The gray covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.92 on the good Arlington turf.
Crittenden, off at 7-1 following a victory in the May 30 PDJF Stakes at Indiana Grand, wound up two lengths clear of Nun the Less in third. King of New York, Firespike, Raagheb and Slope completed the order of finish.
World Approval is out of the With Approval mare Win Approval, making his a half-brother to Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) winner Miesque's Approval; multiple graded stakes victor Revved Up; and multiple Grade 3 hero and Breeders' Cup Mile runner-up Za Approval.
With Saturday's $58,800 payday, World Approval has now earned $174,050 from a 7-3-0-2 record.
The Secretariat is one of three Grade 1 turf events on the International Festival of Racing program along with the Arlington Million and Beverly D.
World Approval photo courtesy of Four Footed Fotos