Perennial Triple Crown contender — when healthy — Classic Empire spent a week at Saratoga Race Course before resuming galloping in the hopes of easing him into training for the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (G1) on August 26.
Classic Empire has been recovering from a foot abscess, which has kept him out since the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 10. The original plan was to have him ready for the July 30 Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1), but that plan was shelved by his connections.
“We’re giving him a little bit of time between works with the idea of training him up to the Travers and, so far, it’s worked,” said assistant trainer Norman Casse. “He’s looked really good the last two mornings and he’ll start galloping again (Saturday).”
Injuries, erratic behaviour, and an unwillingness at times to train have derailed Classic Empire this year.
“Hopefully we can just get him into a regular work routine leading up to the Travers,” said Casse. “His problems are well documented, we just kind of embrace it now. He’s kind of like an athlete that doesn’t really like training too much.
“The good thing here has been the Oklahoma track. We’ve never had any difficulties there. After the Hopeful debacle last year, we started taking him to the training track immediately and we’ve never had a bad day over there. He likes the Oklahoma track, so we’ve got that in our back pocket. That’s where he’ll do the majority of his training and hopefully he’ll have a good month, month and a half, going into the Travers, and we’ll be comfortable knowing that he’s ready to run.”
Classic Empire has earned over $2.5 million from five wins in nine starts.