Saratoga Roundup: World Approval claims victory in Fourstardave

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Live Oak Plantation’s World Approval found the yielding turf to his liking on Saturday afternoon, notching his third stakes win of the year with a 2 ¼-length victory over 2-1 favorite Time Test in the 33rd running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at a mile on the grass at Saratoga Race Course.

Breaking from the outside post, World Approval and jockey Manny Franco settled off the rail in third early as Sassy Little Lila, the lone filly in the field of seven, led through an opening quarter-mile in 24.64 seconds and the half in 49.86 with Ballagh Rocks a length back to her inside. 

Franco swung World Approval four wide, catching the leaders at the top of the stretch. Sassy Little Lila faded along the rail as World Approval hooked up with Ballagh Rocks and took the lead near the eighth-pole. Time Test rallied late to get up for second, a length ahead of Ballagh Rocks in third. 

“I just tried to stay out of trouble and I think that was the key,” said Franco, who earned his first Grade 1 win at Saratoga. “I sensed the pace was good enough because they were fighting for the lead on the first turn. I knew the pace, and they were going fast.

“He handled the ground really well,” he added. “I saw on paper that he had been on this kind of turf before and he ran really well. I feel so lucky right now.”

World Approval, bred by Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Stud and carrying the co-high weight of 121 pounds, completed the mile in 1:37.65 over the inner turf. The Mark Casse trainee returned $12.60 for a $2 win wager.

The victory was the ninth from 22 career starts and the second Grade 1 for the Northern Afleet gelding, who won the 2016 United Nations over good ground. This year, World Approval kicked off his 5-year-old season with back-to-back stakes wins, winning the April 2 Turf Classic at Tampa Bay Downs and the Grade 2 Dixie at Pimlico Race Course on May 20 before finishing fifth in the 1 ¼-mile Grade 1 Manhattan.

The $300,000 winner’s share of the Fourstardave purse increased the Florida-bred millionaire’s lifetime earnings to $1,443,763.

“When we saw the rain was coming, Ms. Weber was concerned and we talked about it a few times, and I thought his race was so good in the Dixie, I thought the rain it wasn’t going to hurt him,” said Casse.

“The only instructions I told [Franco] was that he likes a target,” he added. “That was one of the reasons we cut him back to a mile, because we thought if we could win the Breeders’ Cup Mile or have a shot anywhere, it would be a mile [race]. When you run him farther, he doesn’t get a target. [If it’s] shorter, there’s more speed, and he got a target and it looked like he loved it.”

Disco Partner, the world record holder for six furlongs on the turf, checked in fourth, followed by Sassy Little Lila and American Patriot. Weekend Hideaway, entered for the main track only, was scratched.

Adirondack Stakes

SARATOGA SPRINGS — It took just a few strides out of the gate for Pure Silver to get her customary lead before she quickly took command of the field of seven in cruising to a 9 ½-length win in the Grade 2, $200,000 Adirondack on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.

Sent off at 8-5,  Pure Silver was sent to the lead along the rail by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez after the skittish-but-projected pace-setter Limited View didn’t get off at the break as intended. The daughter by Mission Impazible registered a quarter-mile in 22.44 seconds while longshot Di Maria and Luis Saez sat close along the outside. 

At the half-mile, run in 45.48, Limited View was sent up under Kendrick Carmouche to challenge the leader, but proved to be no match as the rest of the field began to take aim at the front end with three quarters run in 1:10.56. Pure Silver held her run through the stretch, and was kept honest by a few convincing taps by Velazquez to draw away to the wire, completing 6 ½ furlongs in 1:17.22

“We expected to be on the lead,” Velazquez said. “We did break very well. I used him a little bit to make sure I was going to be close the pace. Once I got to the spot I wanted to be in, I just waited there. She did a good job settling around the turn and finished up really well.”

Pure Silver’s effort gave trainer Todd Pletcher his fifth Adirondack victory and second in a row after saddling last year’s winner Nonna Mela.

“She won pretty convincingly. She’s pretty fast,” Pletcher said. “She didn’t actually get away quite as easily as she normally does, but she made up for it quickly and got to the lead the right way. She kind of ran them off their feet from there. It’s been a hard track sometimes to make up a lot of ground on. We knew that this filly was naturally fast and we were going to let her do her thing.”

Through the late stages through the stretch, Southampton Way and Ricardo Santana, Jr. spawned a four-wide run into the stretch to finish second for trainer Horacio De Paz, who also saddled seventh place finisher Proportionality.

Wall of Compassion, off a wide path down the backside checked in for third while Stainless, the other Pletcher trainee in the race, stumbled badly at the break and spotted the field seven lengths before closing well inside for fourth.

“Manny [Franco] did a great job just staying on her, as badly she stumbled,” Pletcher said. “She put in a nice run to be fourth. I was proud of her for staying and making up some ground after getting away as badly as she did.”

De Paz, a former employee at Pletcher’s barn figured to have a formidable shot at an upset with his pair, but the race unfolded differently.

“The speed got away from us,” De Paz said. “We were worried about that filly on the inside [No. 1, Pure Silver] being able to get out in front and just keep going. Our filly tried, she made a good run at the end. She’s just a steady grinder and she’ll want to go further. For a big filly she broke sharp. We didn’t want her to be so close to the pace, but that’s just the way it set up.”

Pure Silver, the lone New York-bred in the race, made her third career start for Twin Creeks Racing Stables, and is now perfect through all three starts since her victory in the Lynbrook Stakes at Belmont after breaking her maiden in her first start.

The Grade 1, $350,000 Spinaway on September 2 could be the next start for Pure Silver, Pletcher said.

“I think we’ll certainly take a look at it,” he said. “She’s a filly who has carried her condition really well. Now having run three times, she looks fantastic.”

Pure Silver paid $5.40 to win for a $2 bet.