It’s been a long hard road for Classic Empire, and the price he has paid throughout a gruelling year may actually buy him some early rest for the remainder of the season.
We haven’t seen Classic Empire since he finished 4th in the 2017 Kentucky Derby and 2nd in the Preakness Stakes just a few weeks later. He was supposed to be one of just two colts to compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown, but injury took over heading in to the Belmont and the colt just wasn’t able to deliver a safe performance. The long standing assumption was that he’d head towards the Pennsylvania Derby but those plans have been scratched as well.
“We just haven’t been able to get him ready,” lamented trainer Mark Casse.
Casse addressed that it’s hard for horses to compete in the Kentucky Derby prep races, along with the Triple Crown and then continue on through the remainder of the year. “If anything, we learned last weekend in the Travers that the Triple Crown trail takes its toll,” Casse said. “We saw the Kentucky Derby winner, the Preakness winner, and the Belmont winner not hit the board—it takes its toll. All of these horses have been going long and hard.” That makes total sense given the rise of horses of West Coast and Arrogate, who started later in the season and positioned themselves for strong world championship runs instead. But it also reflects just how rare and amazing horses like American Pharoah are.
The career of Classic Empire has been non-stop since he broke his maiden on May 4th, 2016 with a win. “Classic Empire ran in May of his 2-year-old year,” Casse continued. “He’s been in training for a long, long time. And we’re not going to do anything until we’re ready. I’m not giving any dates or making any predictions. When we think he’s ready, he’ll breeze, and once we get him back in a regular routine, then we’ll come up with a target.”
Classic Empire has earned $2,520,220 over the course of his career and it’s unlikely that his connections will just call it here. Sometimes all a horse needs is a bit of a break. The talent is surely there, and the respect he has earned from both fans and handicappers is well founded. We will all be excited to see him return if and when he is ready to.