04/16/2006 11:00PM

Miesque's Approval gives Wolfson a thriller

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Bill Denver / EQUI-PHOTOS
Miesque's Approval is pointed for the Firecracker at Churchill.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Marty Wolfson was as confident as any trainer could be going up against the reigning Breeders' Cup Mile winner when he sent Miesque's Approval to Kentucky for the Maker's Mark Mile. But even Wolfson was surprised at the way "the old man" accelerated in the final 40 yards to catch Artie Schiller on the wire to win the Grade 2 race last Friday at Keeneland.

"I always believe that when you run in top races like the Maker's Mark you can't look at the other horses in the field, but just have to know how your horse is doing, and I knew Miesque's Approval had been training exceptionally well," Wolfson said during training hours at Calder on Monday.

"I also knew he could compete with these type of horses, even one as good as Artie Schiller, after he finished second to English Channel in the Canadian Turf Handicap at Gulfstream earlier this winter. English Channel may be the best horse in the turf division right now, and not only did our horse prove he belongs with the elite that day, I honestly believe if English Channel could have been pressured a little more on the front end we would have won that race, too. I began pointing him for the Maker's Mark immediately after that race."

Owner Charlotte Weber turned the 7-year-old Miesque's Approval over to Wolfson late last fall after he finished off the board against $50,000 claiming company at Aqueduct. Two months later, Miesque's Approval gained national notoriety when he upset his former stablemate Silver Tree - and prevented jockey Jerry Bailey from ending his Hall of Fame career on a winning note - in the Sunshine Millions Turf.

Miesque's Approval, with regular rider Eddie Castro aboard, found himself in tough position during the early stages of the Maker's Mark and appeared to have little chance at anything other than second money even after extricating himself from traffic in early stretch.

"He had Honor in War laying over him for much of the race, and he's the type of horse who doesn't like being hemmed in," said Wolfson. "Once he got clear at the eighth pole he really accelerated, but I still thought we were going to finish second. I couldn't believe the way he continued to accelerate in the final 20 yards to catch a horse like Artie Schiller."

The Maker's Mark was Wolfson's second major victory at Keeneland over the past five months. He also upset the Grade 1 Spinster with Pampered Princess during the fall of 2005.

"I think winning this race with Miesque's Approval, even though it was a Grade 2 and the Spinster a Grade 1, was a bigger thrill for me simply because of how far this horse has come since we've got him."

Wolfson said he will likely point Miesque's Approval for the Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap, a Grade 2 at Churchill Downs on July 1.

"I want to see how he handles the Churchill Downs turf course, with the Breeders' Cup to be run there this season," said Wolfson.

Wolfson also said he has received two new additions to his barn, including sprint star Pomeroy, from owner David Hutson. Pomeroy became a candidate for the 2005 Breeders' Cup Sprint after winning the Grade 2 Alfred Vanderbilt Handicap only to be sidelined following his eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Vosburgh.

"Mr. Hutson bought Pomeroy and Chandtrue privately and just sent them in to me here at Calder," said Wolfson.

"Pomeroy had a chip taken out of his ankle after the Vosburgh," he said, "and right now the plan is to train him straight into the Smile."

The Grade 2, $500,000 Smile is the co-feature on Calder's Summit of Speed card on July 15.

Top three from OBS Sprint meet again

Starforaday, who won his maiden with an impressive five-length victory in the OBS Sprint Stakes at Ocala on March 20, is among several interesting contenders in Wednesday's $33,000 allowance feature.

Starforaday, a son of Five Star Day trained by Rick Violette, will take on a field that includes Ghostly Apparition and Wilentz, the second- and third-place finishers in the OBS Stakes, along with an impressive maiden winner, Champ Safi, and Charming Image, whose three-race win streak came to an end when he finished eighth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

* Barring a last-minute change in plans by jockey Cornelio Velasquez, John Velazquez will win the 2006 Gulfstream riding championship. Velasquez made a late run at the title over the past several weeks but remained three victories short of the lead after winning just one race on Easter Sunday, and is not expected back to ride here during the final week of the session, which concludes on Sunday.

* Jockey Paul Toscano will return to south Florida to begin riding regularly during the Calder meet that opens next Tuesday. Toscano, who rode with a good measure of success at Calder last season, spent the winter riding under private contract in Greece. His book will be handled by his former agent, Dick Diego.