Classic Empire, Japan’s Epicharis Head Probables For Third Leg Of Triple Crown

by | 05.22.2017 | 5:46pm
Mark and Norm Casse with Classic Empire at Pimlico prior to the Preakness

With three weeks to go until the third leg of the Triple Crown, it appears that neither the Kentucky Derby nor the Preakness winner will be making an appearance in the Belmont Stakes for the first time since I'll Have Another's untimely retirement in 2012. According to the Daily Racing Form, neither colt has officially been ruled out, but the standard procedures followed by both trainers, Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown, is to give their horses five or six weeks of rest between starts.

Perhaps the unluckiest colt in the Triple Crown this year, Classic Empire is expected to start in the Belmont Stakes, reports trainer Mark Casse. The son of Pioneerof the Nile finished fourth after a disastrous start in the Kentucky Derby, then was just beaten a head on the wire by Cloud Computing in the Preakness after pushing the Derby winner through rapid early fractions. Another exciting contender expected to run in the Belmont is the Japanese-trained UAE Derby runner-up Epicharis, who will bring with him a significant number of wagering dollars from his home country.

An additional 11 colts are currently under consideration for the Belmont, as of Monday afternoon. They include Senior Investment (3rd Preakness), Lookin at Lee (4th Preakness), Multiplier (6th Preakness), Conquest Mo Money (7th Preakness), Tapwrit (6th Ky Derby), Gormley (9th Ky Derby), Patch (14th Ky Derby), J Boys Echo (15th Ky Derby), Irap (18th Ky Derby), Twisted Tom (1st Tesio Stakes), and Meantime (2nd Peter Pan Stakes).


  • Ida Lee

    Epicharis just added a significant notch to the fun factor of the Belmont…

    • The Impaler

      I warned you about putting that bad mojo on Irish War Cry.

      • Ida Lee

        Dear Vlad …. darn it….I wish I could say you’re wrong….

  • Julie Becker

    I will be Cheering for Patch in the Belmont. I hope he wins.
    He is a big Hero!!!!!!

  • Larry Sterne

    hope they don’t wear C,E out b4 he good luck C E

  • Erin Casseday

    Yoshida? Yes I know he is a turf horse, but he is a grandson of Sunday Silence, and he is Triple Crown nominated, and Mr. Mott trains him on dirt. Just saying… Most impressive win of the weekend, at least in my opinion (which doesn’t account for all that much!)

    • SharedBelief1

      Yoshida would be VERY cool!

  • Jack Frazier

    It is not a loss for racing at all. CE ran fourth in the Derby, second in the Preakness and we will see how he does in the Belmont.

    I would say that it was a great day for the winner of the Derby when he did so, and a great day for the winner of the Preakness when he won it. To say otherwise is to diminish the hard work and effort of those two.

    The only way to change things is to implement a new rule that only those horses who started in the Derby would be eligible for the last two legs but then that would take away from both Pimlico and Belmont’s biggest days and so it cannot be changed to suit people who complain about it. All of those races have survived for over 100 or so years.

    • Ida Lee

      Very well said…anytime the 2-year-old Champ is in a race, he makes it that more interesting and fun ….

      • Jack Frazier

        Thanks. Some folks want to take away from the winner, if it isn’t their choice. The fractions in the Preakness were not out of line with a GI race. The only way for a TC would have been the Derby winner Always Dreaming winning but he folded up and the 1/16th pole. It seems to me that this is 1. either a very talented group of which anyone could win if the race were run again, or 2. they are just mediocre crop of colts and only time will tell which one is true. IMO

        • Ida Lee

          Well said again….neither Always Dreaming nor Cloud Computing will be in the Belmont which is too bad but that won’t stop it from being a fun race….it usually is…not often that we get to see 1-1/2 mile runs …

          • Jack Frazier

            It will be. It is a tough series and should remain so. Any changes would take away from the series. What needs to happen is that fields should be limited to 14. To not let a horse nominated to the Derby race in the final two or whichever their connections chose would be asinine.

          • Ida Lee

            Definitely agree with the smaller field for the Derby….On the other hand, I think Pharoah showed us that it’s not the races or conditions, it’s the horse….I just got a message from a neighbor inviting me to a Belmont party….TC or no TC …. the Classic races will always have plenty of fans…

  • Raymond

    Absolutely amazing that 5 to 6 weeks is needed between races for the lightly raced Preakness winner – oh actually not really because it is impossible to cycle a horse in a 2 or 3 week window. We need to quit applauding the trainers who train horses on a cycling schedule. Racing at the upper echelons is becoming much like the tour de lance.

  • otterbird

    Bummer not to see Cloud Computing, but I think Brown also expressed doubts that he’s a mile-and-a-half horse anyway. Still a nice field shaping up; looks like the Belmont will be a really fun betting race!

  • Richard C

    Patch will definitely be the fan favorite in the Big Apple — and wherever he races…..but Epicharis appears to be the interesting play of those listed — since the training road to the Belmont Stakes has been aimed for one peak performance.

  • Ed Fountaine

    Classic Empire is starting to look a lot like Chief’s Crown. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and 2-year-old champion of 1984, third in the ’85 Kentucky Derby, beaten a head in the Preakness after taking the lead in the stretch.

    If this pattern continues, he will finish third as the favorite in the Belmont Stakes – behind two horses trained by Woody Stephens!

    • Matthew Fitch

      If anyone could come back and pull it off, it would be Woody.

  • McGov

    That’s a REALLY good pic of Mark and Norm with horse. Exceptional :)

  • Elle D

    Deal is done. Looks like Classic Empire will be heading to Ashford when he retires.

  • Mike Lee

    Can’t believe connections of Battle of Midway,remember him…3rd in Derby?,never considered running their colt in the Belmont…perfect running style and pedigree (Smart Strike) for the mile and a half,oh well

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