2-1 Favorite Classic Empire Out of Belmont Stakes With Abscess

Trainer Mark Casse reported on Wednesday that the 2-1 favorite Classic Empire will not run in this year’s Belmont Stakes because of an abscess in his right front hoof. The thoroughbred who took fourth at the Kentucky Derby and second at Preakness Stakes has been suffering from the abscess since the Holy Bull Stakes.

Classic Empire
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Classic Empire was favored after Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Preakness Stakes winner Cloud Computing withdrew from the Belmont Stakes. With all three favorites dropped, it leaves the field open to new possibilities. Eyes are now on Lookin at Lee and Epicharis who both are favored at 5-1.

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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