04/02/2017 4:15PM

World Approval fires fresh in Florida Cup Turf Classic

Stephanie Valenti/SV Photography
Grade 1 winner World Approval, ridden by Julien Leparoux, wins the Florida Cup Turf Classic by 2 1/4 lengths.

World Approval, winner of the Grade 1 United Nations last summer, returned from a 5 1/2-month layoff to win the Turf Classic, the first of three $100,000 turf stakes restricted to statebreds on Sunday’s Florida Cup program at Tampa Bay Downs.

It was World Approval’s first appearance at Tampa Bay since he won the Sophomore Turf two years ago.

Ridden by Julien Leparoux for trainer Mark Casse and Live Oak Planation, World Approval ($2.80) sat a half-length behind pacesetter Go Around through the first six furlongs in 1:13.10. He moved a half-length in front at the eighth pole and drew clear by 2 1/4 lengths, completing 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:48.02.

Go Around, the second choice at 2-1, held second, two lengths clear of 17-1 outsider Favorite Heir.

A 5-year-old gelded son of Northern Afleet, World Approval is now 7 for 19 with earnings of $953,763. He was making his first start since finishing eighth in the Grade 1 Canadian International last October.

“He probably looks better than he ever has, and we just wanted to get him back winning because he’s been running Grade 1, Grade 1, Grade 1," Casse said.

Casse said he may point World Approval to the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Classic on the Kentucky Derby undercard on May 6.

Muggsamatic surprises in Sophomore Turf

Muggsamatic, eighth of 10 in his first start of the season three weeks earlier, connected at 23-1 in the Sophomore Turf.

Ridden by Ronnie Allen Jr. for trainer Kathleen O’Connell and owner Stonehedge LLC, Muggsamatic ($48.40) was seventh of eight through a half-mile in 47.18 seconds. He was fifth, but within 4 1/2 lengths of the lead, after six furlongs in 1:11.07 and made a big move going four wide turning for home in the 1 1/16-mile grass race to get into contention. Muggsamatic drew away to finish two lengths clear of 8-1 shot General McGooby. Prize Fight was third at 10-1, a half-length behind the runner-up.

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The winning time was 1:42.23.

In Closing, favored at 3-5 off an impressive maiden win at Gulfstream Park four weeks ago, was pulled up while last entering the final turn and was vanned off.

A son of Any Given Saturday, Muggsamatic is now 4 for 8 with earnings of $111,900. His previous two wins on turf came going 7 1/2 furlongs in an optional claimer at Gulfstream West last October and a one-mile optional claimer locally in mid-December.

Family Meeting rebounds in Distaff Turf

Family Meeting, taking a distinct class drop after she was non-competitive in the Grade 2 Hillsborough three weeks earlier, surged in deep stretch to score a 6-1 upset in the Distaff Turf.

Winless in three previous starts over the local course, including a third on last year’s Florida Cup program in the Sophomore Turf, Family Meeting ($14.60) burst through late under Jose Ortiz to defeat 8-1 outsider Somethingelse by a head. My Girl Corey was third as the 4-5 favorite, a half-length behind the runner-up and a head in front of Qualty Rocks.

The winning time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:43.27.

Two starts ago, Family Meeting, a daughter of Sky Mesa trained by Tom Proctor for Glen Hill Farm, won the Sunshine Millions Turf as the 4-5 favorite. Overall, she is 4 for 13 with earnings of $283,760.