Classic Empire ‘Hasn’t Been As Aggressive,’ Will Skip Haskell Invitational

by | 07.16.2017 | 12:46pm
Mark and Norm Casse with Classic Empire at Pimlico prior to the Preakness

Juvenile champion Classic Empire has officially been taken out of consideration for the July 30 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, trainer Mark Casse told The 3-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile was scratched out of the Belmont Stakes with an abscess, and seems to have not fully recovered from the hoof ailment. Classic Empire recently shipped to Saratoga, and has been training, but Casse is not confident enough in his current status to pursue the Breeders' Cup “Win and You're In” Haskell.

“He trained well this morning (Sunday), but I just don't feel comfortable breezing him yet, and you can't go into a race like the Haskell not getting to do everything you want him to do for the race,” Casse said. “I really needed to work him tomorrow (Monday) if we were going to run, but he hasn't been as aggressive the last few mornings as he had been prior to leaving Kentucky, and I want him to tell me when he's ready to breeze, not the other way around. I think his back is bugging him a little again, which happens whenever he hurts his foot, and it's something we'll have to address.”

Instead of the Haskell, Classic Empire will now be pointed to the Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 25. Owned by John Oxley, Classic Empire has won five of his nine career starts for earnings of over $2.5 million, including a tough trip resulting in a fourth-place Kentucky Derby finish and a close second in the Preakness Stakes.

  • Jbumi

    Aw, this poor guy can’t catch a break. I swear, if I find out who’s putting the whammy on him……

    • TwoBays

      It would be nice if Coolmore would change their MO and give him a 4 year old campaign.

      • Michael Shea

        That is my wish as well. His 3 year old campaign has certainly not gone as hoped, so they might feel the need to bring him back, if for nothing else than to prove he is not fragile. The talent is there; I keep hoping that he gets the chance to show it again.

        • lastromantribune

          with time off he might…..

  • Craig

    Horse should be given the rest of the year off or retired. Horse sure gets a lot of hype for a horse with onlyone win this year.

    • TwoBays

      He is the Juvenile Champion, and a heck of a race horse, for those who can see that racing luck hasn’t exactly been on his side

    • Neigh Sayer

      The problem is the horse needs time and with a planned retirement at the end of this year they don’t have time and are doing things they shouldn’t be doing and might not be doing if that wasn’t the case.

      • Bella

        It seems to me there are just too many obstacles that push him back instead of forward, and I feel it is a sign they need to quit trying, give him until next year or retire him before it leads to something more serious. I pray not, but I would stop now with the try.

    • Ida Lee

      Of course, Classic gets a lot of hype….he’s our Juvenile Champion thus making him the most prominent 3-year-old in the Country when the year started and being the one to watch…..he’s been hurt and has not been in fighting condition all this year….believe me, this is one talented boy and when he’s 100%, I would not bet against him….

  • Michael Shea

    It’s amazing how clear a message this colt gives to his connections; congratulations to them for being willing and able to recognize it. I really appreciated Casse’s remark, “I want him to tell me when he’s ready to breeze, not the other way around.” There are trainers and owners who would ignore every sign if their heart was set on this race. Oxley and the Casses clearly are looking beyond one race and concentrating on Classic Empire’s overall well being.

    • Neigh Sayer

      But he has ignored signs. His foot problem came back, put him in a Z bar shoe which he stated usually tends to give him back problems which he thinks now has happened. Last week this horse ran off with the rider having an unscheduled 7f work instead of 5f which may have made things worse. Now the horse is bulking with signs of being sore. Casse recognizes it and keep trying to run through it. He is still in training but now is being forced to cancel the Haskell which he was dead set on making and still will train him to the Travers.

      • Michael Shea

        I think you’re being unfair to Casse and the owner. The fact is, they have scratched him from his last scheduled start, are skipping the Haskell with the hope of his recovering enough to run in the Travers. It’s pretty clear that if he isn’t ready, they will also skip the Travers. I have been following this colt since his second start and have yet to see the connections force him to do anything. I could understand if he was entered and ran poorly, but that has not been the case. I am still confident that they will give him the necessary time to get back to 100% fitness before he runs.

        • Neigh Sayer

          He has not missed a day of training unless he was so sore he couldn’t go to the track.

        • TwoBays

          This commenter has some dislike of Casse, I think. It is my suspicion that Casse knew all along that the Haskell wasn’t doable. Since they have agreed to give CE more time, I don’t understand the vehemence.

          • HowardRoark314

            This commenter also was Vice President of The Maria Borell Fan Club and thought she was the second coming of Charlie Whittingham. So take that for what it’s worth.

          • Noelle

            Mr. Roark – as an Ayn Rand fan and as a PR reader, I must say your criticism is a bit below the belt….

            Anyone might have hoped that Maria Borell was legitimate. Certainly I did.

            She turned out to be a world class animal abuser and overall awful person – I hope she ends up in hell. But back in the day, I did give her the benefit of the doubt.

        • lastromantribune

          Mike…the horse is brittle

          • TwoBays

            He has a hoof issue. That certainly doesn’t make him “brittle”

          • Michael Shea

            I agree. This is one issue that has plagued the colt; the back problem is the result of the hoof. There are brittle horses out there, who seem to have one problem after another. I would not describe Classic Empire in that way.

          • Judy Gaddis

            Brittle may be the wrong descriptor but the hoof ISSUES (plural) sure make it appear as though he is far from 100% and has been trying to tell these humans this since the hoof abscess that kept him out of the Belmont.

            I certainly have nothing against Casse……………..I just think he is and has been overly optimistic about Classic Empire and also perhaps needs some brushing up on his horse “listening” skills.

            Easy for all of us to “armchair quarterback”………………………but that IS what they created a “Comments” section for!

      • lastromantribune

        YOUR 100 % CORRECT….. the horse needs time off and a new barn.

    • Vendettaroad

      AMEN Mike.

  • Ida Lee

    I know there are a number of Classic fans who did not want him to run in the Haskell….I’m one of them….Classic needs more time and it seemed obvious ….very happy that he’ll be given more time….very upsetting that our Juvenile Champion is having so much trouble…personally, I would give him the rest of the year to put himself together and come back to kick major butt like I’m sure he’s more than capable….get well soon Beautiful Boy…we know you can do it….and we’re so grateful to his connections who from the beginning have been putting their horse’s welfare first ….

    • topkat

      Well if this is the case the Travers is shaping up to be quite a blockbuster, Classic Empire, Always Dreaming, (KD winner) Cloud Computing (preakness winner) Tapwrit (belmont winner) West Coast, Hence, Irap , Mcracken, Patch, Irish War Cry, all being healthy of course and i know i am leaving out a few, last time we saw all three winners of the triple crown series races was 1982 ? any opinion here ??

      • Ida Lee

        This year has been unusual in that our crop of 3-year-olds are all very talented and we end up with no one who is an obvious stand out ….they’re all very good …can we even guess who will be our top 3-year-old this year?….the Travers is going to be like a repeat of the KD except that the boys will be more experienced and had a chance to grow and mature ..for sure, the Travers is going to be a much more important race this year than usual and as you say a blockbuster …as usual, I’m with Irish “come hell or high water” …

  • Xbox Fanboy

    They should run in an allowance race before the travers just to get a race into him.

    • TwoBays

      Not a good idea with the luck this horse has.

  • Luiz Miranda

    This colt should to be considered for his 4 y.o career.

  • Audrey Gulla

    This poor guy has the worst luck!?! @#@!##!!! Thankfully Mr.Casse & team are willing to give him the time he needs to fully recover. I also hope, like some commentators below, that Coolmore will consider allowing CC a 4th year to dazzle us without these unfortunate interruptions/ailments.

  • Casey Higgins

    Rest the horse. STOP on the horse. Race him next year or just retire him if you are not going to race him next year. Enough already.

  • McGov

    Well, I definitely have made my share of negative comments regarding how this team has handled this horse……but I’m happy to hear they are backing off a bit.
    It’s not a bad idea to race a horse past 3 to increase stud value ie California Chrome. If it were not for the persistence with CC nobody would have known how great he truly is.
    Hopefully, the decision makers take this into account and give him another campaign in 2018. These types of problems with the feet and back take time. Working while injured is never a good idea. In most cases the risk of increasing the injury are great if you continue to use the injured part. Regardless of shoes or drugs or massage or chiropractor or any number of different potential solutions……TIME OFF is the best solution in every single case.
    Patchwork, short term solutions usually cause bigger long term problems.

    • Lehane

      The damage has already been done. Not given sufficient time off when he should’ve been. Poorly managed and I’d be surprised if he gets his much earlier good form back.

      • McGov

        It they left him alone and let his feet grow out etc and roll around in a paddock say until January……maybe. He needs to be a horse for a bit.

        • Bella

          I do so agree with that. Nothing benefits a horse with these issues than to be a horse for a while..perhaps a long while. I really feel for Classic Empire, he just keeps talking and no one listens, and his back bothering him again. Perhaps it is his feet causing it and yet it also could be something else.

          • McGov

            Whatever it is the poor horse hasn’t been completely right all year it seems….one thing or another. He oozes talent. Look what he has done under these adverse conditions.
            I think it makes sense from even the breeders point of view to allow the horse to fully show his stuff as a 4 yr old.
            We all watched Mr Sherman give a clinic regarding how to get a champion to bounce back in CC and I’m sure those rewarded by his breeding efforts today are appreciative of the longer road in hindsight….likely was a tough call after he failed to race in Europe….but certainly the right call.

  • William McAlevy

    Retire the horse. There’s no need to press issue or issues. They will make more money breeding this horse as long as Arrogate around. None of these 3 year olds have a chance against Arrogate in Breeders Cup Classic, so why risk it. The only horse as 3 year old is Irap. Tiznow was a game horse and Irap should get better with age. Tiznows Breeders cup victories are my favorite races off all time, along with Blame vs. Zenatta.

    • CAM

      Arrogate will most likely be retired before or at the same time as Classic Empire, so I’m not sure how CE is supposed to bank all this money at stud vs. Arrogate. Also, Arrogate is one of the last sons of Unbridled’s Song while Classic Empire’s daddy Pioneerof The Nile is still alive and young and has a certain Triple Crown winning son in the breeding shed…

  • Richard C

    There will be a point in time very soon where a decision must be made to stop the clock on this (fleeting) season and ready a new timepiece for a 4yo Classic Empire.

  • We’re watching

    All the signs are in the words. This horse won’t run in a race again. I’ll wait but I doubt we’ll see him again outside a breeding shed.

  • Vendettaroad

    Though it’s a dam shame, particularly with a owner being as fine a man as Mr. OXLEY is, but certainly have to respect the handling Trainer Casse is giving to such a Champion. The horse deserves every consideration!

  • Noelle

    This was supposedly the best 2yo coming into the Derby…. lovely horse, of course, but how could everyone have been so wrong?

    Glad his connections are caring for him properly.

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