06/28/2006 11:00PM

Far shorter price on Miesque's Approval now


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Not that he was a bad horse to begin with. But in a remarkable reincarnation that began last fall, when Marty Wolfson assumed his training, Miesque's Approval has become a veritable turf star, winning a half-million dollar race in one appearance and defeating a Breeders' Cup champion in another.

Now an earner of nearly $1.2 million, Miesque's Approval will make his first start in 11 weeks against six other turf milers Saturday in the $250,000 Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs. The Grade 2 Firecracker marks the first race for Miesque's Approval since he nipped Artie Schiller, the 2005 BC Mile winner, in the April 14 Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland.

"That last race was real hard on him," said Wolfson, the Florida-based veteran who said Thursday that he will "flip a coin" to determine whether he or his wife, Carla, will travel to Kentucky to saddle Miesque's Approval. "He's not a young kid anymore, so we kind of wanted to give him enough time to get back to himself."

, owned by the Live Oak Plantation of Charlotte Weber, will break from post 1 when he carries his regular rider, Eddie Castro, in the 17th running of the Firecracker. The 7-year-old Miesque's Approval figures as a strong favorite and most likely will be less than even money, which will be a far cry from his 48-1 price in winning the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf in January and his 6-1 odds in his win over Artie Schiller.

"That's a big change," said Wolfson.

Miesque's Approval was churning his way through a productive, if not spectacular, racing career for Bill Mott when Wolfson, having learned that Miesque's Approval was headed for a break on the farm, asked Weber to give him a shot at keeping the horse on the racetrack.

"I'd just always admired the horse," said Wolfson.

The rest of the Firecracker lineup is , On the Border, Therecomesatiger, and Thunder Mission. They will be spotted four to seven pounds by Miesque's Approval, the 120-pound highweight.

The Firecracker has been won by some solid turf horses, but none as accomplished as Kitten's Joy, the 2004 Eclipse turf champion who captured the 2005 running at 3-5.

The Firecracker highlights an 11-race card, which begins at 1:15 p.m. Eastern. Live racing also will be conducted here Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday before Churchill goes dark for two days. Racing then resumes Friday, July 7.

The field

Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap
Purse: $250,000; 1 mile, turf; Grade 2

1Miesque's ApprovalE. Castro1204-5
2Place CowboyC. Borel1165-1
3Free ThinkingJ. Leparoux1156-1
4GigawattL. Melancon1158-1
5On the BorderD. Sarvis11515-1
6TherecomesatigerR. Bejarano1164-1
7Thunder MissionJ. Jacinto11320-1

* Blinkers on: Thunder Mission
* Track odds