Keeneland September Sale graduate Classic Empire was honored with an Eclipse Award in 2016 as champion 2-year-old colt after a near-perfect juvenile campaign that included wins in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita, Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland and the Bashford Manor (G3) at Churchill Downs.
The colt added another win to his résumé on April 15 in Oaklawn’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1), posting a determined win that earned Classic Empire an additional 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
“Classic Empire was a beautiful physical as a yearling – beautiful head, beautiful eye – and he showed himself well at the September Sale. He’s a very smart horse and was very popular at the barn,” said Kitty Taylor of Warrendale Sales, who offered Classic Empire on behalf of breeders Steven Nicholson & Brandi Nicholson.
Owner John C. Oxley purchased the son of Pioneerof the Nile for $475,000 at the 2015 September Yearling Sale. Trainer Mark Casse was part of the selection process and reflected,“We’re big on how horses walk, as many people are. I’m a big neck and shoulder guy. At the September Sale the colt had this walk, and he had a presence to him. That’s what probably attracted us to him the most.”
“Mr. Oxley was at the sale and was very involved in the selection. We always give him a refined list (of prospects), and he goes around and looks at all of them with us. He loved Classic Empire when he saw him. He said, ‘We’ve gotta have this one, Mark.’”