Multiple graded stakes winner Mission Approved, winner of the 2011 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT), has retired from racing.
Buena Vista, disqualified from first to second for interference in last year's Japan Cup (Jpn-I), found no such problems this year. The 5-year-old mare surged late to win the $6.1 million event Nov. 27 at Tokyo Racecourse.
Cape Blanco and Teaks North, both two-time grade I winners on turf this year, headline a star-studded six-horse field for the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT).
European invader Cape Blanco, making his United States debut, denied champion Gio Ponti a third straight victory in the $600,000 Man o' War (gr. IT) when he held him off in the stretch to win by about two lengths July 9.
Two-time reigning turf champion Gio Ponti still has a chance to remain one of the division leaders and he can do that while attempting to make history in the $600,000 Man o' War Stakes (gr. IT) July 9 at Belmont Park.
Mission Approved, claimed for $35,000 two starts back and making his first start in 11 months, went wire-to-wire to pull a 21-1 shocker in the $400,000 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) June 11 at Belmont Park.
Multiple Eclipse Award winner and $5.3 million earner Gio Ponti heads the field of 10 turf specialists that have been entered for the $400,000 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) on the June 8 Belmont Stakes card.
Reigning champion Gio Ponti closed into a slow pace but was still able to get up by a measured neck to score his first win of the season and defend his title in the $600,000 Man o' War Stakes (gr. IT) July 10 at Belmont.
Helped out by the scratch of morning line choice Spice Route, Musketier earned his first North American win in six starts when he registered an easy tally over four rivals in the $135,520 Singspiel Stakes (Can-IIIT) at Woodbine June 21.
Heros Reward and Mission Approved, winners of last year's Highlander (Can-IIIT) and Singspiel (Can-IIIT) stakes, respectively, are back to defend their titles in each event June 21 at Woodbine. The turf races are part of the $1 million Queen's Plate undercard.
Trainer Steve Asmussen said he wanted a true measure of champion Curlin's potential to compete against the best grass runners in the world, and that's what he's likely to get in the $500,000 Man o' War Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont Park July 12.
Mission Approved wired 11 rivals in taking the $153,624 Singspiel Stakes (Can-III) on the Woodbine turf course on Queen's Plate Day June 22.
English Channel won the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) on Sept. 30 at Belmont Park.
One month from now, English Channel's connections will be taking dead aim at the elusive $3-million John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) for a third time. But first, owner James Scatuorchio and trainer Todd Pletcher have to get the 5-year-old son of Smart Strike back on the winning track, as they must tackle six challengers in the one-mile Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) at Belmont Park Sept. 30.
Most people watching the $100,000 Saranac Stakes (gr. IIIT) Sept. 2 figured that 34-1 longshot Mission Approved was nothing more than a pacesetter, setting modest early fractions on the Saratoga turf until one of the more explosive 3-year-olds, namely Distorted Reality, blew by down the stretch. But it never happened.
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