LEXINGTON, KY (Oct. 8, 2016) – Trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Julien Leparoux, Classic Empire swept past dueling leaders Wild Shot and Blame Will at the head of the stretch and then held off a late charge by Lookin At Lee to win the G1, $500,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity by three lengths.
A Kentucky-bred son of Pioneerof the Nile out of the Cat Thief mare Sambuca Classica, Classic Empire completed the 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:43.41.
The victory was worth $300,000 and increased Classic Empire’s earnings to $385,920 with a record of 4-3-0-0. Classic Empire also earned a berth in the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.
Sent off as the favorite in the field of 12, Classic Empire returned $5.20, $4.20 and $3.40. Lookin At Lee, ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., returned $12 and $8 and finished a length in front of Wild Shot, who paid $18.20 to show under Brian Hernandez Jr.
No Dozing finished another head back in fourth and was followed in order by Gunnevera, Singing Bullet, Bitumen, Tiz Trevor, Blame Will, Perro Rojo, Holiday Bonus and Honor Thy Father.
Oxley purchased Classic Empire for $475,000 at Keeneland’s 2015 September Yearling Sale.
Quotes from the $500,000 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1)
Norman Casse (assistant to his father, Mark Casse, winning trainer of Classic Empire)
“This is a very, very talented horse. The day after the Hopeful (G1) (when he wheeled at the start and lost his rider), we got right to work on him. We put blinkers on him; we breezed him out of the gate several times. It paid dividends today. We’ll more forward from here. You’ve got to think this horse has plenty of room to improve.”
Julien Leparoux (winning rider)
“Today he broke sharp and was all business. He ran a big race. I was a bit surprised to be where I was, but he did it easy and he was happy where he was. He got a little bit tired at the end, but he hasn’t been running for a while, so we expected that.”
Ricardo Santana Jr. (rider of runner-up Lookin At Lee)
“He ran hard. He’s a really nice horse. He kept running. He tried. The track is really fast today so that didn’t help us either.”
Brian J. Hernandez Jr. (rider of third-place finisher Wild Shot)
“My horse ran great. It was his first time going two turns and he was the only one on the lead that stuck around at the end. It was only his third start, and he was coming from a maiden going three-quarters to a Grade 1 against proven horses. It was his first time going long, and I think if I’d taken hold of him I’d have gotten in his way more than anything, so the best thing to do was let him go on.”
Joe Bravo (rider of fourth-place finisher No Dozing)
“He was knocked around leaving the gate; took us out of position. He went wide both turns and still finished very hard. Watch for his name in the future.”