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Classic Empire Racing News
- Nicknamed “Racing’s Bad Boy” because of his training antics.
- Mark Casse’s son, Norman Casse is his assistant trainer and hopes to become a trainer sometime after Derby.
- Norm is from Louisville and graduated from Bellarmine University -- but is a huge UofL fan!
- Classic Empire will be the richest Derby starter ever with over $2 million in earnings.
- His owner, John Oxley, was also the owner of the 2001 KY Derby winner Monarchos.
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.
|4th||Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands||I||1 1/4 Miles||Dirt||May 6, 2017|
|1st||Arkansas Derby||I||1 1/8 Miles||Dirt||Apr 15, 2017|
|3rd||Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes||II||1 1/16 Miles||Dirt||Feb 4, 2017|
|1st||Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile||I||1 1/16 Miles||Dirt||Nov 5, 2016|
|1st||Claiborne Breeders' Futurity Stakes||I||1 1/16 Miles||Dirt||Oct 8, 2016|
|1st||Bashford Manor Stakes||III||6 Furlongs||Dirt||Jul 2, 2016|
|1st||Maiden Special Weight||4 1/2 Furlongs||Dirt||May 4, 2016|