Classic Empire got back on track for the Feb. 4 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park Sunday, pleasing trainer Mark Casse during a half-mile work at Palm Meadows Training Center.
“I would have said going into this breeze that he was 50-50 for the Holy Bull. Now, the chances have increased,” Casse said. “Seeing him today, if he can continue to train that way he trained today, it’s a good shot he’ll make the Holy Bull.”
Classic Empire breezed Sunday for the first time since capturing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita Nov. 5, timed in 49 seconds for a half-mile at Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County. Ridden by exercise rider E.J. Bowler, the son of Pioneerof the Nile breezed along the inside of the racetrack in company with multiple graded-stakes winner Kaigun, who was also timed in 49.
“We couldn’t be happier. I thought he worked super. He handled it well and galloped out well,” said Casse, who trains the Kentucky-bred colt for John C. Oxley.
Classic Empire, the odds-on favorite to be honored as the 2-year-old champion of 2016 at the Eclipse Awards Dinner at Gulfstream Park Jan. 21, has won four of five starts. He captured the Bashford Manor (G3) at Churchill Downs and the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland prior to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, in which he held gamely to edge Not This Time by a neck under jockey Julien Leparoux.
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