The roller coaster campaign of 2016 Eclipse Award winner Classic Empire continues as the colt has been declared out of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) with a foot abscess according to his connections.
The colt was the early betting favorite for the third jewel of the Triple Crown at odds of 7-5 in early Belmont Stakes wagering at US Racing.
The abscess was discovered on Wednesday morning and is the same foot that bothered the colt after his third place finish in the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park back in February.
“This morning his foot is bugging him again,” trainer Mark Casse told Bloodhorse. “It’s the same thing that got him after the Holy Bull. When we came in this morning, he could hardly get around. And there is a very good chance that in the next hour it will bust and he’ll be fine, but even with that, we wouldn’t want to do that to him.”
The 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champion also had a bad back and balked prior to a couple of morning workouts this spring. He won the Arkansas Derby (G1) to earn a spot in the field for the Kentucky Derby (G1) but had a rough trip in a fourth-place finish.
He came back in the Preakness (G1) two weeks later and had a clear lead heading for home but was run down by Cloud Computing in the final strides and had to settle for the runner up spot.
With Classic Empire out, a field of 12 is expected to be entered on Wednesday afternoon for Saturday’s race. Lookin At Lee and Epicharis are the current co-second choices in early Belmont Stakes betting at US Racing at 19-5 but expect those prices to shrink in the upcoming hours.
Lookin At Lee ran second in the Kentucky Derby at 33-1 and then was fourth in the Preakness. He will be the only Belmont starter that ran in both the first two jewels of the Triple Crown.
Epicharis will be making his U.S. debut on Saturday. The Japanese based colt will be making his first start since a nose loss in the UAE Derby (G2) at Meydan Race Course on March 25.
NYRA offering more than $3.5 million in guaranteed wagers, special post times during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival June 8-10
The New York Racing Association will offer more than $3.5 million in guaranteed wagers during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival presented by NYRA Bets on June 8-10 at Belmont Park, capped by a $1.5 million Guaranteed Pick 4 on Belmont Stakes Day, Saturday, June 10.
Day 1 of the festival, Thursday, June 8, opens with a first race post time of 2 p.m. and features a $75,000 Guaranteed Pick 6 beginning in Race 4 (post time 3:35 p.m.) that includes the $150,000 Astoria (Race 5) and the Grade 3, $250,000 Intercontinental (Race 8). The $250,000 Guaranteed Late Pick 4 begins in Race 6 (post time 4:40 p.m.). and includes the Intercontinental. Also on the card is the Grade 3, $200,000 Wonder Again for 3-year-old fillies (Race 3).
Friday’s 11-race card commences at 12:50 p.m. A $500,000 Guaranteed All Graded Stakes Late Pick 4 begins with Race 8 (4:42 p.m.), the Grade 2, $250,000 True North, and continues with the Grade 2, $500,000 New York and the Grade 3, $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational and before concluding with the Grade 3, $250,000 Bed o’Roses Invitational.
Friday also offers a $100,000 Guaranteed Pick 6 beginning in Race 6 (post time 3:36 p.m.)
Also on Friday are a pair of two-day guaranteed Daily Double wagers: a $100,000 guaranteed New York-Metropolitan Handicap double and a $300,000 guaranteed Belmont Gold Cup-Belmont Stakes double.
Belmont Stakes Day kicks off with a first-race post time of 11:35 a.m. and a $500,000 Guaranteed Pick 5. A $250,000 Guaranteed Pick 3 begins on Race 3 (12:39 p.m.) and a $500,000 Guaranteed Pick 6 begins on Race 6 (2:34 p.m.).
The $1.5 million Guaranteed Pick 4 begins on Race 8 (3:58 p.m.) and concludes with Race 11, the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets. The 1 ½-Belmont is scheduled to go off at 6:37 p.m. and will be broadcast live by NBC from 5-7 p.m.
Likely to head the deep and contentious field is Classic Empire, along with Epicharis, J Boys Echo, Lookin At Lee, Meantime, Multiplier, Patch, Senior Investment, Tapwrit, Irish War Cry, Hollywood Handsome and possibly Gormley.
Coverage of the day’s nine graded stakes begins at 3 p.m. on the NBCSN. All times are Eastern.
Get Michael’s full card reports for the three days of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival from Thursday June 8 to Saturday June 10! 18 stakes and over $10 million in purses including the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes!