The headlines declare that 7-year-old Mission Approved’s facile win in the G1 Manhattan Handicap on Belmont day was a shocker. Don’t show those headlines to his NY-based co-owner/trainer Naipaul Chatterpaul. The gelding had come within a neck of reeling in Gio Ponti in last year’s Man O’War, but on yielding turf in front of a huge Belmont crowd it was the 2009 & 2010 turf champion that failed to catch front-running Mission Approved. Postrace, a confident Chatterpaul said he believed all along that if his horse grabbed the lead he could turn the tables on 2-5 favorite Gio Ponti.
“As long as he’s in front, he’s not a horse that’s going to give it up. It would really take a good horse to run him down, and not today.”
The son of With Approval was foaled at Jerry Bilinski’s Waldorf Farm in North Chatham, NY and was bred by Dr. William Coyro, Jr. Mission Approved is out of the Fortunate Prospect mare Fortunate Find – how appropriate that Chatterpaul and his brother made a fortunate claim last June when the horse ran for a tag of $35K. Known as a patient horseman, Chatterpaul gave his new charge a break after the claim for the entire winter to give Mission Approved a chance to grow out a quarter crack. The horse rewarded that patience today as he took home the $240,000 winner’s share of the Manhattan Handicap’s $400,000 purse.
Next up? Perhaps a rematch with Gio Ponti in the 2011 edition of the the Man o’ War.
Christophe Clement, trainer of Gio Ponti, seemed eager to see a rematch, saying about his horse after the race, “He only got beat a touch more than a length. First race back from the break, he will improve from the race on firmer ground. He’ll probably go to the Man o’ War and take them on. He’ll be back.”
Now that’s the kind of rivalry that racing fans have been waiting for. Bring it on.
Executive Director Tracy Egan