Classic Empire Reigns in Juvenile

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Classic Empire won the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile under Julien Leparoux at Santa Anita Park. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Trainer Mark Casse had been openly confident regarding John Oxley's Classic Empire. He was proven right in the sport’s biggest race for 2-year-olds, as Classic Empire held off race favorite Not This Time to win the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Nov. 5 at Santa Anita Park.

Casse has repeatedly called Classic Empire the best 2-year-old he had ever trained. The son of Pioneerof the Nile had won three of his first four starts – with his only loss coming in the Hopeful Stakes, when he unseated his jockey – and the bay colt came into the Juvenile off of a sharp win in the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 8.

Classic Empire stands to be honored as the divisional champion after winning the Juvenile under a perfectly timed ride by Julien Leparoux. After sitting just off the opening fractions set by Syndergaard through the backstretch, Classic Empire moved up through the far turn, took command entering the lane, and had enough left to outlast a charging Not This Time by a neck.

Not This Time, winner of the Iroquois Stakes, ran very well in defeat, easily besting third-place Practical Joke.

"All week long [trainer] Dale [Romans with Not This Time] said we were going to run 1-2," Casse grinned. "I said 'okay'. I'm just glad I was the '1'.

"When he won the Bashford Manor at Churchill in June...I thought it was the most impressive 2-year-old winner that I'd ever trained," Casse continued. "I'm normally not a cocky guy...but I said to a few people [in Saratoga], 'We're going to win the Hopeful today, it's just a matter of how far.'

"Then of course he put me back into reality [when Classic Empire unseated his rider]. But what amazes me is this horse's ability to have such a high cruising speed. And maybe that's another thing that makes this so special. He's an extremely, extremely smart horse, and he tends to see things that maybe others don't, and you never know what he's going to kind of do."

Classic Empire covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.60 as the 4.50-to-1 second betting choice. He has won four of five career starts, and earned $1,485,920.  John Oxley bought Kentucky-bred Classic Empire for $475,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale. Oxley won the Kentucky Derby with the recently-departed Monarchos in 2001, and Classic Empire's Juvenile win has his connections dreaming big. 

"Obviously our goal is the first Saturday in May," Casse said.

2016 Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile
November 5th, 2016

Winning Time: 1:42.60
  • Purse: $2,000,000
  • Distance: 1 1/16 Miles
  • Age: 2 yo
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Winning Time: 1:42.60
Results
Win
Place
Show
1st
5 Classic Empire
$11.00
$5.00
$3.80
  • Owner / John C. Oxley
  • Breeder / Steven Nicholson & Brandi Nicholson
2nd
10 Not This Time
$4.60
$3.40
3rd
9 Practical Joke
$4.60
4th
11 Lookin At Lee
6th
6 Three Rules
7th
7 Gormley
8th
1 Klimt
9th
3 Term of Art
10th
4 Theory
11th
8 Star Empire (GB)
Payoff
Pick 3
2-2-5
2-2-5
$169
Daily Double
2-5
2-5
$65
Exacta
5-10
5-10
$20
Superfecta
5-10-9-11
5-10-9-11
$1,284
Trifecta
5-10-9
5-10-9
$72
Race Replay
Play
Payoff
Pick 3
2-2-5
2-2-5
$169
Daily Double
2-5
2-5
$65
Exacta
5-10
5-10
$20
Superfecta
5-10-9-11
5-10-9-11
$1,284
Trifecta
5-10-9
5-10-9
$72

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