Classic Empire On Target For Haskell Despite ‘Unorthodox’ Breeze

by | 07.10.2017 | 2:02pm
Classic Empire with Norm Casse at Pimlico prior to the Preakness

Champion Classic Empire remains on course for the G1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park July 30 after breezing at Churchill Downs Monday morning.

The Daily Racing Form reports that clockers at Churchill Downs had not assigned an official time for the colt, mostly likely because of the ‘unorthodox' nature of the breeze. Trainer Mark Casse told the Form that it was supposed to be a five-furlong work, but it wound up being closer to seven furlongs after Classic Empire “ran off” and began the breeze prematurely.

Norm Casse timed the colt going five furlongs to the top of the stretch in under 1:02; he was clocked going seven furlongs in around 1:28.

“We can just live in his world,” Mark Casse told the Form. 

The breeze was the first for Classic Empire since he was forced to miss the Belmont Stakes because of a foot abscess. Because the colt had shown some discomfort in the foot, he has been equipped with Z-Bar shoes.

Classic Empire is scheduled to ship to Saratoga later on Monday and will continue to train there for the Haskell.

  • Bella

    Poor Classic Empire, he has to deal with foot issues..one after the other and I really feel for him. As far as Mark Casse’s comment, “We can just live in his world” reminds me that to do the right thing by them, we do have to live in their world. And we must also listen to them. It appears Empire’s new running shoes are telling him to” run off” with a Zip! Isn’t that why they are called Z-Bar shoes..

    • Ida Lee

      Of course Classic is taking off…he’s a young boy born to run… “live in his world” …he’s a TB….it’s all about them…kind of like cats….what I’m worried about is that he may develop laminitis ….it’s been difficult enough watching our young Champ struggle through so many foot issues….a few people in a previous article on Classic’s foot problems suggested just let him take this year off and start anew next year….I’m starting to think this may be the way to go….

      • Bella

        It would be for me..the foot of the horse is not worth taking chances with and time does heal a lot of things. Listen to the horse. I am hearing him, but I don’t own him!

        • Ida Lee

          We care about the horse… don’t race him for a year …. it seems the obvious thing to do …

      • NMBird

        OH, don’t mention the “L” word! That would be just another blow to this talented guy….he needs to heal fully and mature….time off!!

        • Ida Lee

          It is always the fear I have when our equine athletes get hurt, sick or develop some condition …well, it seems Classic is headed to the Haskell…I see a 50-50 chance he makes it …if something pops up again, I bet he’s off until the Breeders Cup….that’s what I would do …(of course, I would prefer he just take the rest of the year off)…

  • Richard C

    Classic Empire just got done reading – “Guess I’m Lucky: My Life In Horseracing” by Woody Stephens – and decided to close the top door on the Haskell training.

  • McGov

    First work back going 7/8 ths…..unscheduled. This horse needs time to mature both physically and mentally. Not to mention time will help those feet.
    There is no question how talented he is. His talent will not diminish at 4 and 5. His mind needs to catch up a bit and those feet need to cool off.
    This horse is remarkable enough to warrant such a long term plan IMO.

    • Michael Shea

      I agree wholeheartedly, but also recognize the slim chance of your outline being followed. It’s unfortunate that in today’s horse racing, long term plans for a three year old seldom extend beyond the three year old season. When you think of the older horse division and what could still be competing as four and five year olds, it’s truly sad.

    • GoodnessMe

      Spot on. But the horse was bought for stud by Coolmore, so……

  • whirlaway

    Too bad Ben Jones can’t whisper a few tips to Mark Casse,, anyone that could make Whirlaway
    into a champion with his antics could undoubtedly help this talented colt that has some antics of his own.

    • Jbumi

      Or Frank Whiteley, Jr. – Forego’s trainer (he was gelded specifically because of his foot/leg issues – they were concerned he would pass the problems on).

      • whirlaway

        Yes indeed FW really did a great job with Forego. Good thing no drought during Forego’s time all the cold water hosed on his legs. It seems there is a high degree of foot issues in just the top end horses we read about and undoubtedly issues we don’t hear about. This is a situation needs to be given attention because look at how these foot issues put setbacks in a campaign. They have become very troublesome.

        • Jbumi

          Yes, I agree 100%!

      • David Juffet

        Oh real horseman do make a difference.

  • Leonard Willschick

    Is it possible that owner and trainer greed and ego are driving the decisions to race this horse into submission? With all the horse’s documented physical and mental issues, why is this horse being forced into nearly every major three year old race that comes up?

    • Oh_The_Humanity

      He’s certainly never shown “submission”, and other than not wanting to train at Palm Meadows, he’s not shown “mental issues” – he didn’t like something and let them know. He’s an intelligent colt that does things his own way – not aggressive, not spooky, not dumb, not lazy. One bad race when he was brewing his first abscess and washed out while shipping in race day. Otherwise when he races he runs honest and hard – include his last two (KD and Preakness) in that category. If his foot is alright to race, he should race – that’s a trainer/veterinarian call, and we get to trust them being on the outside looking in. He’ll be retired soon enough – if he can run, and not jeopardize his well-being, let him race.

      • GoodnessMe

        I agree with this up to the point about racing. This horse shouldn’t be racing right now. he never gets a chance to show his best form due to all the compromise in his training for a variety of reasons, perhaps all born out of his foot. He is being pressed on now because there is no plan to race him next year.

        • McGov

          This horse has been screaming one problem after another for quite some time. Dropped his rider in a race….refusing to work…..foot problems and then more foot problems and then….
          We will never know what he could have been but I do know one thing….he was forced to race when never being his complete best ..time and time again….back in Preakness on short rest after getting beat up in Derby just for icing….and look what he did under that much adversity.
          Now this.
          What a debacle. Can’t imagine what the REAL truth is if we hear this much nonsense on the very far outside.
          Love to see this horse in the right hands.

          • Bella

            It seems that doing the right thing for Empire is clashing with someones’ blind obsession with getting in a race. To keep trying and facing setbacks constantly seems risky to me…for the horse. I love Classic Empire…but the concern makes me just want to see him next year, strong and without foot problems.

          • McGov

            I cannot pretend to know what it’s like to have a juvenile champion. The pressure to do better at 3 must be immense.
            This team pushes much further than most. I hope the horse ends up ok in the end…..and not another casualty of the insatiable ego of …..people

          • GoodnessMe

            I think it is about money more than ego, and I suppose here might be a kicker in his stud rights deal as well – perhaps for another Gr. 1, a specific race, or perhaps for an Eclipse Award as champion 3 yr old male.

          • Judy Gaddis

            Good point!

          • NMBird

            Don’t forget the back issue that caused him to refuse to train….and that was near the start of all this!

        • Bella

          I was very concerned when he showed up with back problems, they believed related to his foot. I do believe his behavior or misbehavior are attributed to just not feeling his best.

          • billy

            If a horse is in pain or discomfort of course they will do whatever they can to get that pressure pain discomfort whatever away from them I have no doubt this horse is trying to compensate for his problems get him out of the stall keep him moving freely at his own will get the blood circulating let freedom of movement loosen him up possibly not like any of this matters at this point there just trying to make the breeders cup at the end of the year and off to the shed and it’s a shame cause this guys nothing but a stud he knows what’s being asked of him that’s for sure and tries every time then again what The he’ll do I know I do wish classic empire the best of luck and hope his problems don’t affect the rest of his life he got like 30 years to live yet possibly

    • doodah

      He’s entered in these major 3yo races because they think he’s good enough!
      All horses have “issues”. Mark Casse has a barn full of good horse because his
      owners trust him to deal with these “issues”. Don’t see any greed or ego here.

    • doodah

      The horse is entered in these major 3yo races because they think he’s good enough!
      All horses have “issues”. Mark Casse has a barn full of good horse because his owners
      trust him do deal with these issues.Don’t see any greed or ego here.

  • dennis mcgarry

    Back in the 70’s and 80’s, trainers at Del Mar used to walk horses on the beach and let them soak their hooves in the salt water. Charlie Whittingham used to say that it was the best cure for many foot issues. Well Monmouth is not far from the Jersey shore, so why not utilize this method with horses on the East Coast?

    • NMBird

      When I visited in last fall, I was shocked to find the easy access to the beaches from Belmar (where I lived for awhile) up to Long Branch was almost impossible! Big condos built along the shore and all the beaches “private.” Really horrible. Belmar is about the only good beach close to Monmouth…driving down via Rte 35 is no longer an easy trip, either!!!

  • SteveD

    Listen to the horse…
    He’s sayin’ he can’t wait to run ;)

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