ARCADIA, Calif. (Nov. 5, 2016) – John Oxley’s Classic Empire ($11) disposed of Syndergaard at the head of the stretch and then held off a bid from favored Not This Time by a neck to win the 33rd running of the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) for 2-year-olds on Saturday afternoon at Santa Anita Park.
Trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Julien Leparoux, Classic Empire covered the mile and a sixteenth on a fast track in 1:42.60. A Kentucky-bred son of Pioneerof the Nile, Classic Empire has won four of five starts with the lone blemish coming in the Hopeful when he wheeled at the start of the race and lost his rider.
The victory was the second World Championships triumph for Oxley, whose Beautiful Pleasure won the 1999 Distaff at Gulfstream Park. It was the third Breeders’ Cup win for Casse and seventh for Leparoux and first in the Juvenile for both.
SENTIENT JET BREEDERS’ CUP JUVENILE QUOTES
Winning Jockey Julien Leparoux (Classic Empire) – “He broke sharp and I put him in the race right away. He took second very nice. I tried to open up coming to the quarter pole, which he did and held off Not This Time (second). He is a nice colt. We really love him and we knew he was going to run good, so I’m glad we got the win.”
Winning Trainer Mark Casse (Classic Empire) – “I thought at the top of the lane he was going to win easily. Then it got pretty close, but Dale (Romans) said all along it was going to be us two and it was quite a deal. We got a little unlucky with Valadorna, but maybe we got lucky this time. We have a lot of wonderful people that we work for and we have a great team. I have been doing this 37 years and I thought his race in the Bashford Manor was as good as any 2yo I’ve ever trained. Then his deal he did in the Hopeful up at Saratoga, so this is maybe even a little more rewarding because it hasn’t been easy. He’ll try you.”
Second-place jockey Robby Albarado (Not This Time, favorite) – “He was not all out today, but he galloped out well. He is an improving horse as this was just his fourth start. I look forward to the future. He’ll be a nice horse next year.”
Second-place trainer Dale Romans (Not This Time, favorite) – “There’s no excuses. Perfect trip, the horse ran well, we just got beat by a real good horse in a fast time.”
Third-place jockey Joel Rosario (Practical Joke) – “I had a good trip. On the first turn I had to take hold just a little bit, not much. Turning for home we went for it but the two in front were probably best today. In the last sixteenth they kind of got away from me.”
Third-place trainer Chad Brown (Practical Joke) – “No excuses. He had good position throughout. Joel gave him a good trip. He seemed to handle the track fine. We were simply third best today.”
Fourth-place trainer Steve Asmussen (Lookin at Lee) – “He tried. I thought he ran well. Two horses we’ve chased the last two times finished 1-2, so he’s been keeping good company. Obviously, he looks like a horse where more distance will help him. We’ll evaluate how he’s doing and try to figure out how to get a good 3-year-old.”
Breeders’ Cup and Santa Anita Park