Classic Empire (inside) winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Photo by Zoe Metz/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup)
One week before his expected start in the $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park, the reigning champion two-year-old Classic Empire breezed a half-mile at Winding Oaks Farm on April 8th.
The son of Pioneerof the Nile went the distance in an easy :50 flat, breezing in company with an unidentified workmate. The exercise was Classic Empire’s third since shipping to Winding Oaks from Palm Meadows in mid-March, shortly after he refused to breeze on two occasions at Palm Meadows.
Classic Empire (outside) breezes at Palm Meadows on April 8th.
Trained by Mark Casse, Classic Empire won four of his five starts in 2016, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) to stamp himself as a clear early favorite for the Kentucky Derby. However, after finishing fourth in the February 4th Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park, Classic Empire’s Derby preparations have been interrupted by a variety of minor issues, including a foot abscess.
Classic Empire is currently ranked #21 on the list of Kentucky Derby qualifiers with 32 qualification points. He will likely need a top-four finish in the Arkansas Derby to secure his spot in the starting gate.
As of April 7th, Oaklawn Park was expecting ten starters for the Arkansas Derby. In addition to Classic Empire, the list of probable starters includes Conquest Mo Money, Lookin At Lee, Malagacy, One Liner, Petrov, Rockin Rudy, Sonneteer, Silver Dust and Untrapped.
Classic Empire is expected to ship to Oaklawn Park on April 12th.
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