10/30/2017 7:10AM

World Approval aims to give dam rare double in BC Mile

Barbara D. Livingston
World Approval, shown winning the Grade 1 Fourstardave, is a leading Breeders' Cup Mile contender.

On Saturday afternoon, barring a thunderstorm in the Ocala, Fla., area, you’ll find the old mare where she nearly always is, a lone horse in a lovely paddock situated near the main residence on Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Stud.

Don’t bother trying to coax her to the fence. Win Approval wants nothing to do with companionship, human or equine. Offer her a kind word and she will return the greeting with, at best, an anxious glance.

“She just wants to be left alone,” said Bruce Hill, farm manager at Live Oak. “She’ll turn her head and look away from you. She just hopes no one comes to pester her.”

Win Approval, 25, did not come to inhabit her de facto paddock of honor because of exploits on the track. Racing between 1994 and 1996 on the East Coast for trainer Pat Kelly, she won twice in 16 starts, and while she improved when switched from dirt to turf, Win Approval required a change of scene (and its accompanying drop in class) from Belmont to Monmouth just to leave the maiden ranks.

No, Win Approval did not look like much more than an ordinary Thoroughbred until 2001. That was the year her first foal, a horse named Revved Up, really began showing racing talent. Revved Up would go on to have a wonderful career, earning more than $1.5 million. His dam would go on to bear three more racehorses that each earned more than $1 million. Such things just do not happen in the world of broodmares.

“We have a number of visitors come by the farm,” Hill said, “and we always go to look at that mare. I may be prone to embellishing from time to time, but I tell everybody that mare is one of 10 of the best that have ever been in the stud book.”

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After Revved Up came Miesque’s Approval (12 wins, $2.6 million in career earnings) and then Za Approval (nine wins, $1.39 million in purse money). Now, the horse carrying the family flag is the last foal Win Approval ever bore, World Approval, and as Win Approval shambles through her standard central Floridian Saturday, World Approval might be putting even more shine to her name.

Since the Breeders' Cup’s inception in 1984, and only one mare, Hasili, has produced more than one horse that won the same Breeders’ Cup race – Hasili foaled Banks Hill, who won the Filly and Mare Turf in 2001, and Intercontinental, who won the race in 2005.

Miesque’s Approval was an upset winner of the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill (he won by four lengths at odds of 24-1), and World Approval is no worse than second choice to give Win Approval her second BC Mile winner Saturday at Del Mar.

The even more amazing thing is Win Approval already almost accomplished this feat – Za Approval had a 1 1/2-length stretch-call lead in the 2013 BC Mile at Santa Anita but was tagged in deep stretch by the great Wise Dan, finishing a game second.

World Approval, a 5-year-old gelding, has put together a successful career regardless of what he does in the BC Mile – 23 starts, 10 wins, 2 seconds, 4 thirds, and $1.83 million in purse earnings. Not too shabby.

Trained for a two-start, 2-year-old dirt campaign by Christophe Clement, World Approval has spent the rest his career with trainer Mark Casse. Moved to turf at 3, World Approval won two Grade 3 stakes, both at 1 1/8 miles, before going to Live Oak for winter rest. Last year at 4, he had improved, just missing his first Grade 1 win in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, then getting it in the United Nations at Monmouth Park.

It was a fine win, gratifying to be sure, but the United Nations in a way pushed World Approval down the wrong path. The race was 1 3/8 miles, and in the longest race of his life, World Approval just had scored the best win of his life. Older brothers Miesque’s Approval and Za Approval had excelled from one mile to 1 1/8 miles, but Revved Up won stakes from 1 1/8 to 1 1/2 miles, and the natural inclination was to keep World Approval running long.

World Approval went from the United Nations to the 1 1/4-mile Arlington Million, where he finished seventh, and he ended his 4-year-old campaign with a third in the 1 1/2-mile Northern Dancer and an eighth in the 1 1/2-mile Canadian International. Back to Live Oak for another winter rest, then back into action in 2017, scoring a solid 1 1/8-mile win at Tampa, and an even sharper win going 1 1/16 miles in the Dixie at Pimlico.

In 2016, on top of his game, World Approval set the pace and faded slightly to finish third over 1 1/4 miles in the Grade 1 Manhattan on the Belmont Stakes undercard, one of the best races of his career. Casse tried him again in the Manhattan this past June. The race wasn’t as tough, and World Approval wasn’t as good, fading to fifth after pressing the pace.

Evidently, World Approval wasn’t Revved Up after all, but perhaps he was Za Approval and Miesque’s Approval. Casse cut him back to one mile in the Grade 1 Fourstardave at Saratoga. The rest, as they say, is history – history, in this case, still in the making. World Approval’s Fourstardave stood as the best one-mile turf race in North America this year until he won the Woodbine Mile on Sept. 16, a performance equally good.

“Probably the thing that tricked us the most with him was the win in the United Nations,” Casse said of the recent cutback in distance. “It was a funny-run race. He kind of galloped along, and they sprinted home. But I don’t look in the rearview mirror. I’ve said a million times that training horses is like putting puzzles together: You keep trying the piece until you find where it fits.”

Casse already has one BC Mile in the bag, the 2015 edition at Keeneland, won magisterially by mighty Tepin. Tepin was not all that long retired when World Approval stepped to the front of the stage.

“She was truly a world champion, and hopefully we can say the same thing about him at some point,” Casse said.

Win Approval was pensioned in 2014. World Approval is the last of her offspring left to race, though she does have producing daughters. Talk about a mare that moved up stallions. Za Approval is by the top-line stud Ghostzapper, but World Approval is by Northern Afleet, whose most recent published stud fee was a mere $6,500. Revved Up is by Sultry Song, whose last published stud fee was $1,000, and Miesque’s Approval is by Miesque’s Son, last standing for $5,000.

All the boys save Miesque’s Approval were gelded.

“They’re not the most cohesive bunch. Very strong-minded,” Hill said.

Besides lightning, a periodic grooming is the only thing that brings Win Approval into a barn and out of her paddock.

“She’s a very independent mare, not cantankerous, rank, or difficult at all,” Hill said. “She just prefers to be left alone.”

Live Oak being a horse farm, there are of course other horses not far from the old mare, horses she knows well.

“Revved Up, he’s in a paddock adjacent to her, and Za Approval is in another one,” Hill said. “She can stand there and see two of her sons.”

Across the country, a third one on Saturday will put to good use the rare gifts bequeathed by his mother.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Win Approval is one of two broodmares to have produced more than one Breeders' Cup winner. She is one of two broodmares to produce more than one winner in the same Breeders' Cup race.

Win Approval
1992 mare, With Approval-Negotiator, by Hoist the Flag
10 foals, 9 starters, 8 winners
4 graded stakes winners, 1 champion
Total progeny earnings: $7,711,808

1998: Revved Up (gelding by Sultry Song)
Multiple graded stakes winner, earned $1,548,653
1999: Miesque's Approval (colt by Miesque's Son)
Eclipse Award champion, won 2006 Breeders' Cup Mile, earned $2,648,879
2000: Barren (bred to Editor's Note)
2001: Winabull (gelding by Hesabull)
Winner, earned $145,852
2002: Magnificentaproval (filly by Distant View)
Winner, earned $43,626
2003: Siteofawinner (gelding by Distant View)
Winner, earned $59,880
2004: Barren (bred to Pulpit)
2005: No report received
2006: Winning Doe (filly by Running Stag)
Winner, earned $20,242
2007: Highest Approval (filly by High Fly)
2008: Za Approval (gelding by Ghostzapper)
Grade 1 winner, earned $1,394,666
2009: Barren (bred to Ghostzapper)
2010: Victorious Won (filly by More Than Ready)
Placed, earned $12,647
2011: Barren (bred to Norther Afleet)
2012: World Approval (gelding by Northern Afleet)
Multiple Grade 1 winner, earned $1,837,363
2013: Barren (bred to Northern Afleet)