By Christie DeBernardis
Champion World Approval (Northern Afleet) looks to make amends for a disappointing fifth in the GI Frank E. Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita last time Mar. 10 as the heavy favorite to capture his second straight renewal of Pimlico’s GII Dixie S. Saturday. The hard-knocking gelding closed out his Eclipse-worthy 2017 season with a trio of top-level victories in the GI Fourstardave H., GI Woodbine Mile and GI Breeders’ Cup Mile. Hanging tough to capture his seasonal bow going this distance in the GII Tampa Bay S. Feb. 10, the gray failed to produce his usual rally when fifth in the Kilroe under Flavien Prat. Hall of Famer John Velazquez, who was in the irons for World Approval’s last three wins, gets back aboard. Weather will be the main concern in this race as the rain soaking Baltimore all week is expected to continue Saturday.
Divisdero (Kitten’s Joy) bested World Approval by a neck when scoring his first Grade I win in the 2016 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, which he won again last year. He has been winless in three starts since, most recently finishing fourth in the GI Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland Oct. 7. Previously trained by Buff Bradley, the bay makes this belated seasonal bow for new conditioner Kelly Rubley.
Frostmourne (Speightstown), an impressive winner of last year’s GII Penn Mile and GIII Kent S., kicked off this term with an optional claimer win at Gulfstream Mar. 16. The dark bay was fifth behind veteran turfer Heart to Heart (English Channel) last time in Keeneland’s GI Makers 46 Mile Apr. 13.