01/26/2007 1:00AM

Miesque's Approval resurrects his career

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If the Eclipse Awards included a category for Comeback Player of the Year, there is little doubt that Miesque's Approval would win for 2006. Instead, his connections will have to be satisfied with an Eclipse honoring Miesque's Approval as champion turf horse.

At ages 2, 3, and 4, Miesque's Approval was a perennial contender in Grade 2 and Grade 3 turf races, winning or placing in 11 stakes.

But in 2004, when the horse turned 5, his form dulled somewhat, and by late in his 6-year-old season, he had turned in back-to-back sixth-place finishes in claiming races.

Enter Marty Wolfson, the long-time trainer based in south Florida who had a small string of horses for the breeder and owner of Miesque's Approval, Charlotte Weber of Live Oak Plantation. Wolfson, who did not train Miesque's Approval at the time, asked Weber if he could try to turn him around rather than have her send the horse for a rest on the farm.

"I had run against him through the year," Wolfson recalled. "He was a very good young horse, and his form just went off. I asked Mrs. Weber to give me the chance, and fortunately she said yes."

The result was a remarkable 7-year-old season in 2006. After finishing fourth in his first start for Wolfson in December 2005, Miesque's Approval posted a 48-1 upset in his next race, the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream Park in late January. In that race, Miesque's Approval gamely held off Silver Tree, who was heavily favored under Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, who was making the last ride of his career.

Miesque's Approval finished second in his next start, the ungraded Canadian Turf Handicap on March 11 at Gulfstream, after which came three straight victories, in the Grade 2 Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland, the Grade 2 Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs, and the Grade 3 Red Bank at Monmouth Park.

Miesque's Approval finished fourth, beaten two lengths, on Oct. 7 in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, an effort that led bettors to dismiss him at 24-1 in his season finale, the Grade 1 BC Mile at Churchill.

Miesque's Approval saved his best for last in the Breeders' Cup as he rated well off a fast early pace under regular rider Eddie Castro, then launched an explosive run that carried him to an emphatic 2 3/4-length triumph over Aragorn, Badge of Silver, and 11 more of the world's best turf milers.

Wolfson said after the BC Mile that he believed Miesque's Approval had earned a divisional Eclipse Award. "This horse beat the best horses in the world," he said.

Miesque's Approval, a Florida-bred, is by Miesque's Son, a sire whose dam, Miesque, was a two-time winner of the BC Mile, in 1987-88. By winning the Mile at age 7, Miesque's Approval joined Cardmania (1993 Sprint) and Elmhurst (1997 Sprint) as the oldest winners of a Breeders' Cup race. His earnings in 2006 were $1,906,405, giving him more than $2.6 million for his career.

* VOTING: Miesque's Approval, 74; The Tin Man, 69; English Channel, 63; Red Rocks (IRE), 21; Aragorn (IRE) 19; Showing Up, 12; Lava Man, 7; Ashkal Way (IRE), 1; Better Talk Now, 1; Collier Hill (GB) , 1. Voter abstentions, 3.