Classic Empire 14


Classic Empire

John C. Oxley
Mark E. Casse
Julien R. Leparoux
Steven Nicholson & Brandi Nicholson
Foal Date
Mar 21, 2014

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Classic Empire Racing News

5 Facts

  1. Nicknamed “Racing’s Bad Boy” because of his training antics.
  2. Mark Casse’s son, Norman Casse is his assistant trainer and hopes to become a trainer sometime after Derby.
  3. Norm is from Louisville and graduated from Bellarmine University -- but is a huge UofL fan!
  4. Classic Empire will be the richest Derby starter ever with over $2 million in earnings.
  5. His owner, John Oxley, was also the owner of the 2001 KY Derby winner Monarchos.

Horse Bio

Classic Empire ended 2016 as the best juvenile in the United States after winning the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). However, the Kentucky Derby has proved tough for Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winners over the years. Only Street Sense (2007) and Nyquist (2016) have won both races.

Heading into 2017, Classic Empire was tabbed as an early Kentucky Derby favorite, but a distant third-place finish behind Irish War Cry and Gunnevera in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) on Feb. 4 put a damper on those high hopes. A post-Holy Bull foot abscess was the main culprit for the disappointing finish.

The abscess took its time to heal, and coupled with back issues and disrupted training sessions, Classic Empire’s recovery took longer than expected. The wait was worth it though, as he came back with a fury in the Arkansas Derby – where Classic Empire made a return to the winner’s circle and secured a starting gate spot in the 143rd annual Kentucky Derby.

Bred by Steven and Brandi Nicholson, Classic Empire was a $475,000 buy at the 2015 Keeneland Yearling Sale for owner John C. Oxley. He usually races close to the speed. His racing style suggests the 1-1/4 miles Derby trip could be a challenge, but his sire Pioneerof the Nile has produced Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and there is some stamina in his female line.

Classic Empire has drifted in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools, and was at 12-1 at the end of Pool 4. But in a year when the form book has regularly been upended, Classic Empire has proven grade I class, and he could provide good betting value.

2017 Derby and Oaks Workout Videos

Race History

4th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands

Churchill Downs

I1 1/4 MilesDirt May 6, 2017
1st Road to the Kentucky Derby Arkansas Derby

Oaklawn Park

I1 1/8 MilesDirt Apr 15, 2017
3rd Road to the Kentucky Derby Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes

Gulfstream Park

II1 1/16 MilesDirt Feb 4, 2017
1st Road to the Kentucky Derby Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile

Santa Anita Park

I1 1/16 MilesDirt Nov 5, 2016
1st Road to the Kentucky Derby Claiborne Breeders' Futurity Stakes


I1 1/16 MilesDirt Oct 8, 2016
1st Bashford Manor Stakes

Churchill Downs

III6 FurlongsDirt Jul 2, 2016
1st Maiden Special Weight

Churchill Downs

4 1/2 FurlongsDirt May 4, 2016

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Classic Empire Racing News