Classic Empire (Pioneerof the Nile) wins the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. Julien Leparoux up, Mark Casse trainer, John Oxley owner.
Classic Empire, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and heavy favorite to earn the 2-year-old male championship title, took another significant step Monday morning on the path to possibly launching his 3-year-old campaign in the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park Feb. 4.
Under exercise rider. E. J. Bowler, the son of Pioneerof the Nile worked five furlongs in 1:02.55 in company with 7-year-old and multiple graded stakes winner Kaigun at the Palm Meadows Training Center.
Monday’s move was the second breeze of the year for John Oxley’s Classic Empire, whose status to run in the $ 350,000 Holy Bull continues to get the green light from trainer Mark Casse, was not on hand for the work, which was overseen by his son and assistant, Norman.
“Norman was every enthusiastic about the breeze,” Casse said. “When you look at it from a time standpoint it is more about what he does after the breeze. He amazes us because you can’t get him tired. There’s been a lot of discussion about the Holy Bull between Mr. Oxley, Norman, and myself. I think we’re going to make it because I just think it’s good timing. I would say today is another step closer to the Holy Bull.”
Classic Empire has won four of five starts. He captured the Bashford Manor (G3) at Churchill Downs and the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland prior to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Undeniably talented, Classic Empire also has another side to him, one that makes him somewhat of a challenge for his connections. One such example is when he left the starting gate in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course, and wheeled and lost the rider.
“He’s a bit of a bad boy, there is no doubt about that,” Casse said with a chuckle. “I was talking to Mr. Oxley this morning and said to him, ‘He’s different than most horses. He’s absolutely brilliant, but what makes him so good, also makes his bad.’ The fact that he is tireless, makes him tough. Somebody the other day said he walks like a panther, and that’s what he does — he always ready to pounce.”
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