Last year, it was the “Queen of the Turf” that delivered Mark Casse a coveted Ricoh Woodbine Mile title. This year, it was a gallant-looking grey that came through for the Hall of Fame conditioner.
Tepin’s 2016 Mile triumph was certainly an expected outcome for the Eclipse Award winning mare. It was a hard-fought half-length score, in what represented the turf titan’s eighth consecutive win.
Fast-forward to this September 16 and it was five-year-old World Approval’s turn to shine for Casse.
Jockey John Velazquez, aboard for the first time, wasted little time in putting the son of Northern Afleet in a forward position on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
Breaking from the inside post, World Approval, sent off as the mutuel favorite, was a head behind pacesetter Dragon Bay through early splits of: 23.77 and: 46.45.
Deauville was close up in third and moved into second as World Approval took control through six furlongs in 1:10.31.
A host of rivals launched their respective bids, but the grey, 2 ½ lengths in front at the stretch call, would win by that very same margin. Lancaster Bomber rallied for second, while Long On Value and Mondialiste, the 2015 Woodbine Mile champion, finished third and fourth, respectively.
“He was going so well the whole way around,” said Velazquez, who extended his Mile record win total to five. “I was just hoping when he switched down the lane and I asked him that he would respond. That’s exactly what he did. As soon as he switched, I let him know, he took off. He was ready. He broke well today. No one seemed to want the lead. I just kind of left him there and he held on very well.”
With the victory in the $800,000 race, World Approval earned a guaranteed berth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, a one-mile turf race for three-year-olds and upward slated for November 4 at Del Mar.
Casse, who missed his Mile triumph for the second straight year, are already doing a little California dreaming.
“As long as he’s healthy, we are going to the Breeders’ Cup,” said Casse, on the phone from Keeneland, where he was buying horses. “Am I confident we can win? I don’t think I would change places with anybody.”
World Approval returned $6.70.
Johnny Bear springs a 9-1 Northern Dancer upset
Johnny Bear collared the favoured European star Hawkbill in a dramatic finish to win the Grade 1, $300,000 Northern Dancer Stakes, part of the Woodbine Mile undercard.
The 1 ½-mile turf clash is a major local prep race for the Pattison Canadian Internationalthat will be contested on October 15 at Woodbine.
Johnny Bear and jockey Luis Contreras pulled off the 9-1 upset defeating Hawksbill in a photo finish to give trainer Ashlee Brnjas her first graded stakes win. The six-year-old English Channel—In Return gelding is owned by her father John Brnjas’ Colebrook Farms along with Bear Stables Ltd.
“I was just thinking just stay behind the eight-horse, and follow him as much as I can, and wait for the end to make my move,” said Contreras of his winning journey. “It worked perfect.”
Bred in Ontario by Tall Oaks Farm, Johnny Bear was a $278,000 yearling purchase at the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society sale.
He returned $20.20 for the win.
Quidura is poetry in motion in Canadian Stakes
Quidura, the overwhelming 2-5 favourite, lived up to her support with a one-length victory in the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes.
The $250,000 Canadian, an about 1 1/8 mile turf race for fillies and mares, brought together a field of seven starters.
Piloted by Junior Alvarado, for trainer Graham Motion, Quidura broke from the inside and clung to the hedge as the field revved up for the stretch drive.
“I wanted to make sure I got cover,” said Alvarado, riding in Canada for the first time. “I knew I had horse. Any time I wanted to split horses or do something, I knew she was there for me so I wasn’t worried. We were pretty much just waiting to turn for home. Then I found my spot and after that she was there for me, gave me a nice kick.”
Quidura, bred in England by her German owner Gestuet Faehrhof, notched her first Grade 2 score.
“I ran her here today because of the timing,” said Motion. “I really hope to take her to Del Mar for the Breeders’ Cup.”
Quidura paid $2.80.
The 13-race Woodbine Mile card yielded a record $13,659,735 handle, surpassing last year’s mark of $9.6 million.