The Breeders’ Futurity Stakes at Keeneland Racecourse held the fourth date along the Road to the Kentucky Derby. As a prestigious challenge for two-year-old colts, the Breeders’ Futurity offered a competitive field of 12.
Talented runner Classic Empire opened the race as the 5/2 favorite, which placed him just ahead of Gunnevera at odds of 4/1. Trailing them in odds value was Bitumen at 9/2 and both Singing Bullet and Holiday Bonus held 8/1 odds. The remainder of the 2016 Breeders’ Futurity field provided long odds, it truly felt like a three-horse race.
The race didn’t unfold that way.
Wild Shot was the early pace setter as the pack ticked off fractions of :23.38 at the quarter, :46.63 at the half-mile and 1:11.17 at the three-quarters pole. It was a tightly packed field, but Gunnevera and Bitumen were well off the mark as they held position in the rear.
At the top of the stretch Lookin At Lee hit the throttle to emerge from the back of the pack, but couldn’t maintain enough momentum to catch Classic Empire and placed second. Classic Empire unleashed his trademark closing speed and overwhelmed the field with a winning time of 1:43.41 to take the 2016 Breeders’ Futurity Stakes. He would pass the front running Wild Shot who was able to grind out for third.
"Today he broke sharp and was all business. He ran a big race," Jockey Julien Leparoux gleamed about 2016 Breeders’ Futurity Stakes winner Classic Empire. "I was a bit surprised to be where I was, but he did it easy and he was happy where he was. He got a little bit tired at the end, but he hasn't been running for a while, so we expected that."
Classic Empire earned a 94 BRIS speed rating and paid $5.20, $4.20, and $3.60 at 8/5 odds on a $2 bet. Lookin At Lee brought in $12.00 and $8.00 at odds of 18/1, and Wild Shot was a wild show-bet returning $18.20 at long odds of 42/1.
Classic Empire 8-5
Lookin At Lee 18-1
Wild Shot 42-1