Saturday’s $1.5 million Belmont S. (G1) lost its expected favorite early Wednesday morning when trainer Mark Casse revealed that champion Classic Empire would not run due to a recurrence of a foot abscess in his right front.
“This morning his foot is bugging him again,” Casse told BloodHorse. “When we came in this morning, he couldn’t hardly get around. In an hour it could bust and he’d be fine, but we wouldn’t do that.”
Classic Empire initially developed an abscess in early February when he ran a disappointing third in the Holy Bull (G2) in his season debut. Slow to heal, Classic Empire did not start again until mid-April, when he captured the Arkansas Derby (G1). A troubled fifth in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Classic Empire rebounded with a strong performance in the Preakness (G1) narrowly losing to Cloud Computing.
Without Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming or Cloud Computing pointing to the Belmont, last year’s champion juvenile would have been solid favorite in a field now expected to number 12.
“It’s unfortunate but we still have a lot of big races to look forward to,” assistant trainer Norm Casse said via Twitter. Mark Casse told BloodHorse Classic Empire would now be pointed toward the Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park on July 30.
Check back later today for Ed DeRosa’s thoughts on this development as well as the Belmont Stakes Post Position Draw from New York.