Gunnevera Pointing to Travers While Classic Empire is Out

Classic Empire, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner will not make it to the Travers (G1) at the Spa.
(Photo by Casey Phillips/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup)

Gunnevera’s five-length victory in Sunday’s Tangelo at Gulfstream Park will point him to the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers presented by NYRA Bets on August 26, trainer Antonio Sano said by phone Monday. The Fountain of Youth winner came out of the race in good order and will remain in Florida until later this month.

“He’s doing good, very, very good,” Sano said. “Everything went very well. The race went just like we wanted, and he will go to the Travers. He will ship up that week, either that Monday or Tuesday, and we are looking forward to it.”

The Kentucky-bred by Dialed In finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby and followed up with a fifth place finish in the Preakness before Sunday’s victory. The colt captured last year’s Grade 2 Saratoga Special by a length just a little less than a month after he broke his maiden at Gulfstream in his third start.

Classic Empire to Miss Travers; Casse Plans Next Course

Multiple graded stakes winner Classic Empire put in a strong gallop around the Oklahoma training track Monday morning and is on schedule to breeze soon, trainer Mark Casse said. The lapse in training will cause the son of Pioneerof the Nile to miss the Grade 1 Travers, but Casse said the nagging abscess to his front right foot has been cured.

“He looked great today, Casse said. “Him [assistant trainer and son Norm Casse] and I are still talking about how we want to do this, but I would say today I thought he had great energy. He was happy so if we can keep that up for the next little while we’re going to breeze him. We’re not going to make the Travers obviously, but we now are aiming for the Pennsylvania Derby.

“It’s a little bit of a deeper racetrack here, and you have to remember every time he hurts his foot he hurts his back, and the deeper racetrack is really tough on his back, so what we’ve been doing is a lot of jogging because like I said its tough on his back. He trained great this morning.”

The Arkansas Derby-winner ran fourth in the Kentucky Derby before returning to finish second to Cloud Computing in the Preakness. His last workout was recorded on June 2 when he breezed a steady half-mile in 50 seconds at Churchill Downs. The discovery of a foot abscess caused the colt to miss the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

“It’s tough because Norm and I were talking about it yesterday when Gunnevera won. I didn’t see it, but they said he was impressive yesterday. Everywhere you see the horses that are winning these big races, that he’s handled with ease; yeah, it’s frustrating. But I also have to think to myself, hey, we’re fortunate to have been able to accomplish what we have with him, and that’s how I handle it. Do you want to get in there and try? Of course, for us we still feel like we have a shot to be a champion 3-year-old.”


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