John Oxley’s Classic Empire made a bold late bid to come home a 3/4-length winner in Saturday night’s Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes, one of the first juvenile stakes of the season. The 2-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile blazed through six furlongs in 1:09.39 over Churchill Downs’ fast main track, ridden by Julien Leparoux for trainer Mark Casse.
Recruiting Ready, off as the 1-2 favorite, jumped out of the gate very quickly and immediately had a one-length lead over the field nine-horse field. Tip Tap Tapizar rushed up to join Recruiting Ready on the lead through a quarter-mile in :21.76, then backed off again as the leader set a half-mile fraction of :45.07. Classic Empire broke slowly, but was able to tuck in behind the frontrunners in about second-to-last position. Leparoux never panicked, angling his colt wide to allow him to get around the rear of the field.
Rounding the turn for home, Recruiting Ready repelled the second bid of Tip Tap Tapizar, but Classic Empire had dropped to the rail to cut the corner, and was making up a lot of ground from what was now third position. With a sixteenth a mile to run, Leparoux nudged his charge to the outside and rode him on past Recruiting Ready, crossing the wire approximately three-quarters of a length in front. Recruiting Ready had to settle for second, while Tip Tap Tapizar held on to third over Boys From Boston.
Bred in Kentucky by Steven and Brandi Nicholson, Classic Empire was a $ 475,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase. The Bashford Manor is just the colt’s second start, following a strong maiden performance at Churchill back in May. The win brings Classic Empire’s career earnings up to just over $ 85,000.
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