Classic Empire, recently named 2-year-old champion at the 2016 Eclipse Awards Dinner, is scheduled to make his sophomore debut in next Saturday’s $ 350,000 Lambholm South Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park, a week after 2016 3-year-old champion Arrogate and 2016 Horse of the Year California Chrome competed in the inaugural running of the $ 12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1).
Trained by Mark Casse for owner John C. Oxley, Classic Empire won four of five starts, including the $ 2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita Nov. 5.
Peacock Racing Stables’ Gunnevera is also expected to make his 3-year-old debut in the 1 1/16-mile prep for the $ 1 million Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream April 1. The Antonio Sano-trained colt captured the $ 1 million Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) in his 2-year-old finale.
Albaugh Family Stables’ J Boys Echo, who finished fourth in the Jackpot after breaking his maiden at Keeneland by5 ½ lengths, is also on the list of probables, along with Shadwell Stable’s Shamsaan and Hardway Stable’s Talk Logistics.
Shade Tree Thoroughbreds’ Three Rules, who swept the 2016 Florida Sire Stakes series, is nominated to both the Holy Bull and the $ 200,000 Swale (G2), a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds on an undercard that includes the $ 200,000 Forward Gal (G2), a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies.
John C. Oxley’s Pretty City Dancer, who won the Spinaway (G1) in a dead heat at Saratoga last summer, is slated to make her 3-year-old debut in the Forward Gal for Casse.
The $ 100,000 Sweetest Chant (G3), a mile turf test for 3-year-old fillies, and the $ 100,000 Kitten’s Joy, a mile turf race for 3-year-olds, will also support the Holy Bull on Saturday’s card.
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