Ex-Cats

Classic Empire appears on course for Preakness

Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite Classic Empire ran on the track during the Tuesday morning training session last week at Churchill Downs.
Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite Classic Empire ran on the track during the Tuesday morning training session last week at Churchill Downs.

Classic Empire, the morning-line favorite who finished fourth in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, appears on course to take on the Preakness Stakes in two weeks.

Norm Casse, assistant trainer to his father, Mark, said as much on on Twitter on Monday morning.

“I’m so excited to take Classic Empire to @PimlicoRC and take our best shot at #KyDerby Champ Always Dreaming in the @PreaknessStakes,” he tweeted.

On Sunday, Norm Casse, was a little more cautious about declaring the reigning juvenile champion for the May 20 Preakness at Pimilico Park in Baltimore. Many other Derby trainers said they will skip the Preakness or make a decision later this week whether to challenge Always Dreaming in the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Classic Empire had a difficult trip at Churchill Downs, getting bunched in a near pileup coming out of the gate on a sloppy track. While he was able to recover against a smaller field in the shorter Arkansas Derby last month, his late run Saturday was only good enough for fourth behind Todd Pletcher’s Always Dreaming, but he was closing at the end.

On Sunday, Mark Casse said the bay colt looked like he’d come out of a prize fight with a few cuts and some swelling on his right eye.

“A lot of it is just going to be how quickly his eye can come around. He also got cut up quite a bit yesterday,” Casse was quoted saying by Brisnet.com. “He looks a bit like Muhammad Ali after a rough night. Believe me, after yesterday I’d like another crack at everybody because he had a trip from hell. (Jockey) Julien (Leparoux) said he didn’t know how he stayed up, he got hit so hard.”

Other Preakness probables

The official website of the Preakness Stakes listed five challengers Monday to Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming.

None of those five ran in the Derby on Saturday: Senior Investment, Multiplier, Cloud Computing, Malagacy and Conquest Mo Money.

Derby contenders in addition to Classic Empire whose connections have expressed interest in the Preakness include Gunnevera, Lookin At Lee and Hence. Royal Mo, an also-eligible entrant in the Derby, is also expected for the Preakness.

Preakness Stakes

When: Saturday, May 20

Where: Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore

Last year’s winner: Exaggerator

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