02/09/2017 5:56PM

Classic Empire appears to recover quickly from foot abscess

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Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Mark Casse is optimistic Classic Empire will be able to make the Fountain of Youth on March 4.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Mark Casse reported on Thursday that 2016 2-year-old male champion Classic Empire is doing well after popping an abscess in his foot. The abscess was discovered less than 48 hours after his third-place finish as the heavy favorite in last Saturday’s Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

“The good news is I’ve seen these foot abscesses last a long time, but if all goes well he’ll go back to the track to train on Friday,” said Casse.

Classic Empire got upset on the van ride from Palm Meadows to Gulfstream for the Holy Bull, Casse said, and was noticeably hot leaving the paddock and in the post parade for the race. He broke a step slowly but recovered to stalk the leader and eventual winner Irish War Cry. But when jockey Julien Leparoux roused him on the final turn, Classic Empire had no response and was beaten nine lengths.

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Casse said all seemed well with Classic Empire the morning after the Holy Bull, but that his condition went downhill the next day.

“On Monday morning he was limping around pretty good, and by Monday afternoon he couldn’t walk around the shed row,” said Casse. “[The abscess] drained a little on Tuesday, and Wednesday it really busted open.”  

Casse said right after the Holy Bull that Classic Empire had seemed to struggle with the Gulfstream surface and would probably make his next start at another track. But with the abscess a likely cause of his subpar performance Saturday, Classic Empire now could make his next start here in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on March 4, Casse said.

“We had absolutely no idea why he acted the way he did on Saturday, that’s not like him, and of course for the subpar effort, that’s not him, either,” said Casse. “This makes the picture a lot clearer. We’ll take it on a day-to-day basis for now. We haven’t decided exactly what will be next, but at this point there’s still a chance he’ll run back at Gulfstream in the Fountain of Youth.”