05/23/2017 1:37PM

Classic Empire to stand at Ashford Stud following racing career

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Barbara D. Livingston
Classic Empire was the 2016 champion juvenile and won the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby this year. He also ran fourth in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Preakness.

Champion Classic Empire will stand at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky., upon his retirement from racing, following a deal brokered by bloodstock agent Justin Casse to secure his breeding rights.

The 3-year-old son of Pioneerof the Nile will continue to race for owner John Oxley and trainer Mark Casse, Justin’s brother.

“Everybody’s delighted to be working with one another,” Justin Casse said. “The Oxleys, the Casses, Coolmore, everybody has a great track record, and for everyone to come together, it should be a winning team in all phases of the horse’s career.”

Classic Empire has won 5 of 9 starts for earnings of $2,520,220. He was unanimously named champion 2-year-old colt in 2016 on the strength of a campaign that included wins in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity, and the Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes.

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He came back at age 3 to win the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, run fourth in the Kentucky Derby, and most recently finish second by a head to Cloud Computing in the Preakness Stakes.

Bred in Kentucky by Steven and Brandi Nicholson, Classic Empire is out of the placed Cat Thief mare Sambuca Classica, whose four foals to race are all winners, also including multiple stakes winners Uptown Twirl and Anytime Magic. He is from the extended family of Grade 1-placed stakes winner In Her Glory.

Classic Empire will be the sixth Eclipse Award winner as champion juvenile male to stand at Ashford Stud upon retirement from the past eight recipients, following the lead of Lookin at Lucky (winner in 2009), Uncle Mo (2010), Hansen (2011, now standing in Korea), Shanghai Bobby (2013), and American Pharoah (2014).

“They’re arguably the best in the world at developing stallions on several continents, and their track record, especially with juvenile champions, was key for Mr. Oxley,” Casse said.

Classic Empire will join 2015 Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah as sons of Pioneerof the Nile standing at Ashford Stud.