Breeders' Cup diary: Mark Casse compares World Approval to Ben Johnson

By Geoffrey Riddle@Louchepunter
Wed 1 Nov 2017

By Geoffrey Riddle

Mark Casse compares World Approval to disgraced sprinter Ben Johnson:

World Approval is a significant obstacle to Ribchester’s chances of going out on a high in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Ribchester - Del Mar - Penelope Miller Ribchester warms up for the Breeders' Cup Mile with a spin on the dirt at Del Mar on Tuesday (Penelope Miller/ABR)

The five-year-old US runner has roughed up Lancaster Bomber and former Royal Ascot winner Time Test in his last two starts, and is a best-priced 3-1 with Paddy Power and as short as 7-4 with Coral. Ribchester is 7-2 with Coral.

Trainer Mark Casse had not seen his seven Breeders’ Cup runners for some time due to his required attendance at the sales, and having arrived late on Monday California time he was struck by the appearance of World Approval.

“I hadn’t seen him in a while and I can’t believe how much bigger and stronger he looks,” Casse said.

“He used to be a little leaner and longer, like a Kenyan runner. Now he’s got some Ben Johnson in him. He looks a little more like a miler type.”

Ribchester’s tall reputation has preceded him, but Casse, who sensationally saddled Tepin to land the Queen Anne Stakes last year, is confident of success from stall five.

“It’s a perfect draw,” said the nine-time Sovereign Award-winning trainer.

“I think his running style, and with his tactical speed, he fits this course perfectly.

“I know a lot has been said about the one horse from Europe (Ribchester) but this is a new ordeal for him. I think being (from the U.S.) is a bit to our advantage. At least I hope so. This is a much tighter-turn track than they have been on before. Another thing is that speed here is a little different than speed in Europe.”

George Scott looking for Dettori magic for James Garfield:

James Garfield - Breeders' Cup - Del Mar - Penelope Miller James Garfield works on the dirt surface at Del Mar on Tuesday (Penelope Miller/ABR)

The Europeans cleared quarantine overnight on Monday and took to the main dirt track on Tuesday.

The likes of Beckford (Juvenile Turf), Juliet Capulet (Juvenile Fillies Turf), Sands Of Mali (Juvenile Turf) and Suedois (Mile) all stretched their legs on the rain-sodden surface.

As did James Garfield, and trainer George Scott was on hand to see the Mill Reef winner stretch his legs ahead of Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

Scott is one of a handful of trainers who will be having their first Breeders’ Cup runners on Friday and Saturday, with Archie Watson, Richard Spencer and Sir Mark Prescott being others.

Scott arrived in Del Mar on Monday night, having flown across the Atlantic with Frankie Dettori.

“He shipped over really well and has not lost much weight and has eaten everything since he has arrived,” Scott said.

“Preparations have gone sweetly so far but I do appreciate that there are still two days to go.

“Frankie who is riding for us is in great form at the moment. I flew over with him and he was very excited and was difficult to keep quiet. He is a magic rider and I am sure he is going to make something happen so I am hoping that it is going to happen on my horse.”

Dettori, who has never ridden at Del Mar, has rides on Friday’s undercard for English trainer Simon Callaghan. James Garfield is a best-priced 6-1 for the mile contest.

Spencer not giving up on Royal Ascot hero Rajasinghe:

Coventry Stakes winner Rajasinghe has not struck in two runs since his success at Ascot in June, and was very disappointing when 11th behind U S Navy Flag in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket in September.

The son of Australian sprinter Choisir has drawn the widest stall in 14, and although he is a hold-up horse his odds of 33-1 are reflective of his likely chance.

Spencer was at trackwork on Tuesday and his hope remains undimmed.

“He didn’t do much this morning, but he’s in good order, and he’ll do a little more later in the week,” he said.

Of his draw in the outside post on Friday, he said: “Obviously it’s not ideal, but we have to take what we’re given, and we’ll see how the race unfolds.” Chad Brown hoping Angel sprouts wings over 12f:

Chad Brown hoping Angel can sprout wings in Turf:

The Europeans have dispatched their biggest Breeders’ Cup team to Del Mar, with the 35-strong equine armada eclipsing the 30 that raided Santa Anita in 2009.

Fanciful Angel might have been the 36th, had he not transferrd from Marco Botti’s Newmarket stable after running second to Beach Patrol in the Arlington Million in August to Chad Brown.

Fanciful Angel’s form – his last victory was at Chelmsford in May, is hardly the stuff of Breeders’ Cup dreams, but Brown has turned rougher stones in to diamonds before.

Fanciful Angel is by sprinter Dark Angel, and his second again to Beach Patrol in the Joe Hirsh Turf Classic a month ago was the first time he had run over 12 furlongs. The tight turns of Del Mar, will obviously be an asset.

“He’s doing well and continues to improve,” Brown said of the 40-1 chance. “I love the way he’s training right now. He’s a headstrong horse, but he is manageable. It’s worth a shot here for a big purse that I think he could get a piece of.

“He gave me the impression that maybe he would like the extra distance,” Brown continued. “I know his form said he was running shorter, but he gave me the impression that he wanted to go longer. We tried it (in the Joe Hirsch) and so far it’s worked out well.”

Beach Patrol is a best-priced 8-1 with BetVictor, Coral and William Hill.

“He’s going to face much tougher horses than he did in the Joe Hirsch. Then again, his number was very fast in the race and he’s a very consistent horse who shows up every time,” Brown added.

“He has very good positional speed early to get him the jump on contenders who are behind him. All these things line up for an opportunity to really do well.”

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