Big Names Line Up For Empire Classic
Eleven state-bred Thoroughbreds will vie for the title of “Best of New York” Oct. 23 when they assemble for the $200,000 Empire Classic, the centerpiece of New York Showcase Day at Belmont Park.
In addition to the Empire Classic, six other stakes for New York-breds worth nearly $1 million will be included on the 10-race card. Post time begins at 1 p.m. EDT.
With victories in two of the last four runnings, trainer Dominic Galluscio and Majesty Stud have enjoyed considerable success in the Classic, and they’re hoping that tradition will continue with Stormy's Majesty, as one of four 3-year-olds in the 1 1/8-mile Empire Classic, the ninth of 10 races on the day.
The homebred son of Stormy Atlantic is undefeated in four starts against fellow state-breds, including his neck victory over Classic rival and fellow sophomore Ibboyee in the 1 1/8-mile Albany at Saratoga in August, his first stakes win.
“One of the breeders passed away in April, so it’s very emotional when we run him,” said Galluscio of Stormy’s Majesty, who in open company finished eighth in the Jim Dandy (gr. II) and second in the Star of Cozzene. “He’s very sharp right now, and we are looking forward to the race.”
The consistent Ibboyee, a multiple stakes winner who has been no worse than third in his last seven starts, enjoyed a brief freshening after the Albany, his first start at the Classic distance.
“He’s done well at a mile and an eighth, and we’re happy with the way he’s training right now,” said trainer Todd Pletcher of Ibboyee, who will run as part of an Anstu Stable entry with the 5-year-old gelding Manteca, beaten favorite in the Salute Me Sir in September. “Manteca’s last race was very disappointing. He found himself on the lead when another horse stumbled, and that probably isn’t his best running style. We’re hoping he’ll settle off the pace a little.”
Also running as an entry will be two of owner Chester and Mary Broman’s top sophomores—Mine Over Matter, who beat older horses in the Salute Me Sir, and Friend Or Foe, most recently sixth after an eventful trip in the Travers (gr. I).
Winner of his first three starts, including a victory over his elders in an allowance and the Mike Lee, Friend Or Foe stepped up into open company at Saratoga, finishing a credible fourth in the Jim Dandy. In the Travers, the son of Friends Lake was carried five-wide on the first turn and emerged from the race with a cut on his left foreleg that later became infected, forcing him to miss some training.
“It definitely knocked him off schedule,” said Friend Or Foe’s trainer John Kimmel. “He came back, and he’s worked really well. I think he’s back to where he was at the beginning of the summer.”
The Empire Classic also drew a number of familiar faces, including Classic veterans Ruffino, second last year to Haynesfield, and Naughty New Yorker, winless in four editions, as well as multiple stakes winners Giant Moon, Icabad Crane, and Wishful Tomcat, who will be making their Classic debuts.
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