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
Super Saver's Green Destiny tastes first stakes success in Ellis Park Debutante title=
Super Saver

Super Saver's Green Destiny tastes first stakes success in Ellis Park Debutante

Green Destiny won her stakes debut in the $100,000 Ellis Park Debutante on Sunday, drawing off in the final furlong to win by four lengths...

[read more]

Speightstown filly zips to TDN Rising Stardom at Saratoga title=
Speightstown

Speightstown filly zips to TDN Rising Stardom at Saratoga

Sharing drew off powerfully in the stretch en route to a 6 1/4-length maiden special weight win Sunday at Saratoga, a performance that earned a the 2-year-old Speightstown filly a TDN Rising Star tag...

[read more]

Carpe Diem fillies record pair of maiden wins title=
Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem fillies record pair of maiden wins

Bella Aurora and Rule the Day both got their initial victories on Aug. 16 to give top-10 First-Crop sire Carpe Diem a total of six winners to date...

[read more]

Daredevil's Deviant dominates in first stakes win title=
Daredevil

Daredevil's Deviant dominates in first stakes win

Deviant became the first stakes winner for Freshman Sire Daredevil on Aug. 14 with a commanding 7 3/4-length victory in the $75,000 El Joven S...

[read more]

Outwork filly hammers for $500,000 Monday at Fasig-Tipton New York Preferred sale title=
Outwork

Outwork filly hammers for $500,000 Monday at Fasig-Tipton New York Preferred sale

Outwork set the record for the highest price ever paid for a filly by a freshman sire Monday at the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred Preferred Yearlings sale...

[read more]

$340,000 Constitution colt tops first day of Fasig-Tipton New York Preferred sale title=
Constitution

$340,000 Constitution colt tops first day of Fasig-Tipton New York Preferred sale

John Terranova, agent, went to $340,000 to secure hip No. 342 during Sunday evening's Fasig-Tipton New York-bred Preferred Yearlings sale, giving Constitution the session-topper...

[read more]

Carpe Diem colt breaks maiden in blowout victory title=
Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem colt breaks maiden in blowout victory

Monforte 8 1/4-length maiden win on Aug. 9 over the Gulfstream Park turf course came despite a driving rainstorm and made him Carpe Diem's fourth First-Crop winner...

[read more]

Constitution colt rolls in Saratoga maiden special weight debut title=
Constitution

Constitution colt rolls in Saratoga maiden special weight debut

Constitution, the number one First-Crop Sire by earnings and graded stakes winners, got his seventh juvenile winner Thursday at Saratoga...

[read more]

Tiznow colt provides fireworks early Tuesday at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga title=
Tiznow

Tiznow colt provides fireworks early Tuesday at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga

Just a few moments into Tuesday's closing session of the Aug. 5-6 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Sale Juddmonte Farms came away the top bidder at $600,000 for a Tiznow colt...

[read more]

$400,000 filly tops terrific F-T Saratoga sale for Exaggerator title=
Exaggerator

$400,000 filly tops terrific F-T Saratoga sale for Exaggerator

Tuesday's closing session of the Aug. 5-6 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Sale yielded the best result of the sale for first-crop sire Exaggerator...

[read more]