A pair of Florida-breds earned 2017 national Thoroughbred racing championships.
Florida-breds World Approval and Caledonia collected 2017 Eclipse Awards as North American Thoroughbred racing champions. Presented annually, the Eclipse Awards honor excellence in North American Thoroughbred racing. The awards are voted on by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters.
World Approval was named the Eclipse champion male turf horse. In Thoroughbred racing, turf horses run on grass courses rather than on dirt tracks. Bred by Charlotte Weber’s Ocala-based Live Oak Stud and raced by her Live Oak Plantation, World Approval won five turf races at five different racetracks. Of those five, three were Grade I stakes races, which are the highest level of Thoroughbred racing. World Approval captured the Fourstardave Handicap (G1) at Saratoga, Woodbine Mile Stakes (G1) at Woodbine and Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Del Mar. Trained by Ocala native Mark Casse, World Approval earned $2,043,600 in 2017.
For Weber, it was the second Eclipse Award won by a horse she bred and raced. Miesque’s Approval, a half-brother to World Approval, was named the 2006 North American champion male turf horse.
In addition to winning an Eclipse Award, World Approval was named 2017 Florida-bred Horse of the Year, as well as Florida-bred champion older male, turf male horse and male sprinter. Weber’s Live Oak Stud was named the 2017 Florida Breeder of the Year. Win Approval, the dam (mother) of World Approval, was honored as the 2017 Florida Broodmare of the Year. The latter awards are presented by the Ocala-based Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association.
Caledonia Road, bred by Peter Vegso’s Ocala-based Vegso Racing Stable, was named the Eclipse champion 2-year-old filly. She was sold for $140,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale. Caledonia Road races for the partnership of Zoom and Fish Stable, Charlie Spiring and Newtown Anner Stud.
Trained by South Florida-based trainer Ralph E. Nicks, Caledonia Road had a short but impressive 2017 racing season. After winning her first start, she was then second in the Frizette Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park. Her next start came in the prestigious $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Del Mar, where she won easily. That victory was instrumental in Caledonia Road earning her Eclipse Award.
In but three starts in 2017, Caledonia Road posted two wins and one second to bank $1,229,800. Caledonia Road was also named the 2017 Florida-bred champion 2-year-old filly by the FTBOA.
Beginning with Needles in 1955, a total of 52 Florida-breds have been named national Thoroughbred racing champions.