Coady Photography/Keeneland Photo
Churchill Downs Press Release: The John C. Oxley-owned and Mark Casse-trained 2-year-olds Classic Empire and Pretty City Dancer, both recent maiden victors at Churchill Downs, put in final serious preparations Saturday morning for their looming stakes debuts in the $100,000 Bashford Manor (GIII) and the $100,000 Debutante (Listed), respectively, on closing night, Saturday, July 2.
Bashford Manor hopeful Classic Empire breezed a half-mile in :47.60 while on the outside of Havana Dream through splits of :12.20 and :23.80 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.60. Debutante aspirant Pretty City Dancer, with Julien Leparoux up, started one length back of a stable mate and eased one length clear at the wire for a four-furlong breeze in :48.60. She went :24.20 and :48.60 early before galloping out in 1:01.20 and 1:14.20.
“They’re both on point for the weekend,” Casse’s son and assistant trainer Norman Casse said. “Pretty City Dancer looked like she was just hitting the ground real well and we’re real excited about the way that she worked. Classic Empire looked real well so we’re excited about running both of them on Saturday.”
A son of Pioneerof the Nile, Classic Empire made his career debut a winning one in a four-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs on May 4, despite coming out of the gate a step slow. Pretty City Dancer, a daughter of Tapit, won on her second attempt at the same distance by 2 ¾ lengths on May 27. Prior to that, she was third beaten 2 ¼ lengths behind Harlands Thunder.
“I think they’re both super intelligent,” Casse said. “Classic Empire had kind of a bad trip his first start and still won regardless. I think Pretty City Dancer was kind of looking around and trying to figure things out and then she put in a much more polished effort her second time. I think they both are going to run significantly better on Saturday night. That’s something to be excited about.”
The Bashford Manor and Debutante are six-furlong races, and Casse believes that both 2-year-olds should improve with added distance.
“I think both of them have such efficient strides that the longer the better for those two,” Casse said. “You kind of have dreams for 2-year-olds when they first break their maiden and you have expectations and try to tone it down a little, but we’ll just go race to race with them.”
Another highly-regarded 2-year-old in the Casse barn is Thirstforlife, who finished third behind Silvertoni in the $100,000 Kentucky Juvenile and returned to break his maiden by 6 ½ lengths on June 4. The Stay Thirsty colt is likely to compete at Del Mar this summer, according to Casse.
Also on the Saturday work tab for Casse was Airoforce, a runner-up to stable mate Catch a Glimpse in the June 4 Penn Mile (GIII) on June 4, who breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 and will point to the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational (GI) on July 9. Noble Bird, sixth in the June 11 Metropolitan Handicap (GI) at Belmont Park, breezed a half-mile in :49.40.
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