Thoroughbred Daily News
War Front - Deed I Do, by Alydeed - Irish Hill Century Farm
Irish Hill Century Farm - Stillwater, NY | 2010 | Entered Stud 2017 | 2019 Fee $7,500

New Champion World Approval Returns in Tampa Bay

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World Approval winning at Tampa last year | SV Photography

By Joe Bianca

Few remember because of the brilliant season that ensued, but newly-crowned champion male turf horse World Approval (Northern Afleet) started his 2017 campaign with a visit to the Oldsmar oval of Tampa Bay Downs. Three Grade I wins and an Eclipse statuette later, the gray will kick off his 2018 journey in the same place as the prohibitive favorite in Saturday’s GIII Tampa Bay S.

Easily annexing the Florida-bred Turf Classic S. here last April, the Live Oak Plantation colorbearer repeated in the GII Dixie S. at Pimlico and, after suffering his only defeat of the year when fifth in the GI Woodford Reserve Manhattan S., reeled off consecutive scores in the GI Fourstardave H., GI Ricoh Woodbine Mile and GI Breeders’ Cup Mile. The gelding shows five turf breezes at Palm Meadows in the interim, completing preparations with a half-mile spin around dogs in :49 flat (6/24) Feb. 3.

Despite all of his accomplishments, World Approval hasn’t scared off the competition, as nine rivals are slated to take their crack at the champ in his 6-year-old bow.

The two who appear to have the clear next-best chances if the favorite missteps are Phipps Stable’s Fire Away (War Front) and Juddmonte Farms’ Forge (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}). The former was a consistent high-priced optional claiming performer for much of last season before breaking through with a victory in the Artie Schiller S. when last seen Nov. 18 at Aqueduct. The homebred earned a career-best 102 Beyer for that effort, tops in the field aside from World Approval. The latter was a good second at 13-1 in the GII Bernard Baruch H. last summer at Saratoga before disappointing as the favorite when seventh in the GII Knickerbocker S. last out Oct. 9 at Belmont.

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