04/03/2017 2:46PM

World Approval points to Woodford Reserve Turf Classic

Stephanie Valenti/SV Photography
World Approval won the Turf Classic on Florida Cup Day by 2 1/4 lengths in front of Go Around.

OLDSMAR, Fla. – It was mission accomplished for World Approval on Sunday, when the Grade 1 winner made a successful 2017 debut, tracking the pace of Go Around and powering home 2 1/4 lengths ahead of that rival in the Turf Classic. The race was one of six $100,000 stakes for Florida-breds on Florida Cup Day, one of the highlights of the Tampa Bay Downs meet.

World Approval had made six consecutive starts in Grade 1 races prior to Sunday, winning the United Nations at Monmouth Park last summer and placing in three more, including a runner-up finish, beaten a neck by Divisidero, in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs last May. Trainer Mark Casse said World Approval is being pointed toward that race again May 6 on the Kentucky Derby card.

World Approval ($2.80) was heavily favored Sunday, his first start since October, and finished the 1 1/8-mile race on firm turf in 1:48.02 under jockey Julien Leparoux, with a final furlong in a crisp 11.37 seconds.

“He really came home quick,” Casse said. “It was just what I wanted for him. The horse that he beat is a good horse, so I was extremely happy with the performance, especially off the long layoff. I thought he was pretty impressive.”

Casse said the win was especially meaningful because it marked the fifth Florida Cup victory for Charlotte Weber and her Live Oak Plantation, which also bred World Approval. The 5-year-old gelding by Northern Afleet was produced by the With Approval mare Win Approval, who also produced the millionaires Revved Up, Miesque’s Approval, and Za Approval.

“It was Florida-bred Day at Tampa, so it was only fitting that a horse like World Approval would win for Charlotte Weber, who has been the backbone of Florida breeding,” Casse said. “It’s an honor to train for her.”

World Approval has won seven of 19 career starts and earned $953,763. He won the Sophomore Turf Stakes on Florida Cup Day in 2015.

Go Around, a homebred for Peter Vegso trained by Bill Mott, was seeking a repeat win in the Turf Classic.

R Angel Katelyn stepping up

R Angel Katelyn will test graded stakes company after earning the fourth stakes victory of her career in the Florida Cup Sophomore Fillies. With Edwin Gonzalez aboard for leading trainer Gerald Bennett, R Angel Katelyn ($3.80) scored by 3 3/4 lengths in the seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies to improve her record to five wins from seven starts and boost her earnings to $277,120.

Co-owner Richard Averill said R Angel Katelyn will be pointed to the Grade 3, $150,000 Miss Preakness Stakes on May 19 at Pimlico.

“I thought it was impressive,” Averill said of R Angel Katelyn’s effort Sunday. “She’s won four stakes races, so it’s time for her to take a chance in graded stakes company. She’s earned that opportunity.”

Plans for the other four Florida Cup winners remained in flux Monday.

Trainer Ron Spatz said he likely will pick out a race at Gulfstream Park for Mo Cash ($7.40), who remained perfect in three starts by taking the Sophomore by a neck over Salute With Honor on Sunday with Tyler Gaffalione aboard. Mo Cash made his first two starts at Gulfstream, winning a maiden special weight race and the $60,000 American Fabius Stakes by a combined 12 3/4 lengths.

“I thought he was smashing,” Spatz said of the effort Sunday. “He ran the hardest he’s ever had to run. The horse just showed so much gameness and heart. It was very impressive.”

Trainer Kathleen O’Connell said she had no immediate plans for Muggsamatic ($48.40), who got his first stakes victory in the Sophomore Turf, scoring by two lengths with Ronnie Allen Jr. aboard. Muggsamatic had rallied to win an optional claimer here in December, then was away for three months before finishing eighth against open company in the $75,000 Columbia Stakes at a mile here March 11.

“I was very pleased with the performance,” O’Connell said. “It was exactly what I expected. The mile was too short, and it was open company, and he had a vacation, and he still only got beat five lengths.”

Trainer Darien Rodriguez said he hasn’t picked out a next race for Tiger Blood ($5.80), who dominated the Sprint by 4 1/2 lengths under Pablo Morales for his second stakes victory. Tiger Blood has five wins and a runner-up finish in seven races here, including a victory in the $96,800 Pelican Stakes against open company in February.

“I thought he ran a great race,” Rodriguez said. “He was training really good, and he’s definitely on the improve right now.”

Family Meeting likely will target stakes restricted to Florida-breds at Gulfstream Park over the summer after rallying under Jose Ortiz to take the Distaff Turf by a head over Somethingelse for trainer Tom Proctor and owner and breeder Glen Hill Farm. Family Meeting ($14.60) is now a three-time stakes winner, having taken the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante on the Del Mar turf in November 2015 and the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf on the Gulfstream grass in January.

“We’re going to do what we can to run in restricted races because those look like good spots for her,” Glen Hill president Craig Bernick said.