Juvenile champion Classic Empire has officially been taken out of consideration for the July 30 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, trainer Mark Casse told drf.com. 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.
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