Classic Empire prevails in Arkansas Derby (G1) thriller
Saturday, April 15, 2017
With his victory in Saturday's $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1), Classic Empire made an emphatic statement that the son of Pioneerof the Nile will be a formidable foe in the May 6 Kentucky Derby (G1).

Last year's undefeated 2-year-old champion, Classic Empire's lone 2017 start prior to Saturday was an uncharacteristic third in the Holy Bull S. (G3). After a minor foot issue, Classic Empire put in a solid series of works in preparation for the Arkansas Derby, with the public ultimately sending him off as the 9-5 favorite.

Breaking from post 2, Classic Empire was squeezed back and found himself in seventh going into the first turn. As the field moved onto the backstretch, Julien Leparoux had a snug hold on Classic Empire as he held his position in traffic about four lengths off the lead. 

Making his way three-wide on the final turn, Classic Empire actually lost some ground to the leaders, but once he turned for home, Leparoux took Classic Empire to the middle of the track for clear running. Conquest Mo Money provided the stiffest challenge in deep stretch, but Classic Empire was going the best at the end, winning by a half-length in 1:48.93.

"He just has so much ability. I knew if we could get him here that he'd be tough," said trainer Mark Casse. "He's been a challenge, but the last month and a half have been good.

"I've always believed in him. I knew he had a tremendous amount of ability and I thought he was ready today. I'm proud of him."

Classic Empire will now go on to Louisville as one of the favorites for the 143rd Run for the Roses. 

"(Churchill Downs is) home for him. We'll get him back there and come up with a game plan," Casse said. "I think the toughest deal is over, getting to this point. Now he won't have to do too much going into the Derby." 

Classic Empire is now a three-time Grade 1 winner of $2,120,220. Owned by John Oxley, the bay colt sold for $475,000 to his owner at the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling sale. 

Classic Empire is Pioneerof the Nile's second all-time leading earner, behind only Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah, who like Classic Empire, was a 2-year-old champion.
Visit Pioneerof the Nile's Page Pioneerof the Nile
Paint Dakota draws off in stretch for comfortable maiden win title=
Paynter

Paint Dakota draws off in stretch for comfortable maiden win

Paint Dakota pulled away to a 2 3/4-length maiden win Nov. 17 at Hawthorne in her second lifetime start...

[read more]

$200,000 colt Sunday at Keeneland for Carpe Diem title=
Carpe Diem

$200,000 colt Sunday at Keeneland for Carpe Diem

Sunday's session of the Keeneland November sale featured a $200,000 colt from the first crop of Carpe Diem...

[read more]

Banner Friday at Keeneland for More Than Ready title=
More Than Ready

Banner Friday at Keeneland for More Than Ready

More Than Ready had two of the top four weanlings during Friday's session of the Keeneland November sale, including a $325,000 filly purchased by Fort Pierce Racing...

[read more]

Constitution filly fetches $185,000 Friday at Keeneland title=
Constitution

Constitution filly fetches $185,000 Friday at Keeneland

The Keeneland November sale features several top-class foals from the first crop of multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Constitution, including a filly that brought a winning bid of $185,000 from Bluegrass Thoroughbred Services...

[read more]

Overanalyze winners tally numbers two dozen title=
Overanalyze

Overanalyze winners tally numbers two dozen

Leading First-Crop sire Overanalyze's latest winner Interdiction gave the WinStar stallion his 24th winner this year with his blowout 14-length maiden special weight win...

[read more]

$320,000 weanling highlights Thursday at Keeneland for Carpe Diem title=
Carpe Diem

$320,000 weanling highlights Thursday at Keeneland for Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem's $320,000 colt sold Thursday at the Keeneland November Sale marked the top price paid for a weanling by a first-crop sire during the session...

[read more]

Daredevil's first Keeneland weanlings bring six figures on Thursday title=
Daredevil

Daredevil's first Keeneland weanlings bring six figures on Thursday

Daredevil, the Grade 1 winner whose first crop are weanlings of 2017, had two fillies top the six-figure mark during Thursday's session of the Keeneland November Sale...

[read more]

Pioneerof the Nile has top weanling Thursday at Keeneland title=
Pioneerof the Nile

Pioneerof the Nile has top weanling Thursday at Keeneland

Pioneerof the Nile's $550,000 colt was the top-selling weanling during Thursday's session of the Keeneland November Sale, which runs Nov. 7-18...

[read more]

Battle of Midway, Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner & Classic-placed son of Smart Strike, retires to WinStar title=

Battle of Midway, Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner & Classic-placed son of Smart Strike, retires to WinStar

Battle of Midway, winner of the $1,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) last Friday at Del Mar, has been retired from racing and will take up stud duty in 2018 at WinStar Farm. His fee will be $20,000 S&N...

[read more]

$500,000 filly for Speightstown Wednesday at Keeneland title=
Speightstown

$500,000 filly for Speightstown Wednesday at Keeneland

A filly by leading sire Speightstown brought a winning bid of $500,000 during Wednesday's session of the 2017 Keeneland November Sale...

[read more]