Recurrence of foot problem rules Classic Empire out of Belmont
Classic Empire was ruled out of Saturday's Belmont Stakes on Wednesday following the discovery of a foot abscess.
The injury, on the bulb of his right fore, was the recurrence of a problem the colt had suffered earlier in the year, trainer Mark Casse said.
The setback robs the Belmont, the last race of the US Triple Crown series, of the Classic's likely favourite following his runner-up effort in the Preakness Stakes.
Classic Empire had arrived at the track on Tuesday but after one night in New York Casse said "his foot is bugging him again."
"It's the same thing that got him after the Holy Bull," he told the Bloodhorse. "When we came in this morning, he could hardly get around. And there is a very good chance that in the next hour it will bust and he'll be fine, but even with that, we wouldn't want to do that to him."
Classic Empire, last year's champion juvenile, has endured a stop-start year with foot and back issues during his build-up to the Kentucky Derby, in which he was fourth.
"The bad news is he's not going to run," Casse added. "The good news is this is a temporary deal and he'll get over it."
With Classic Empire ruled out of the Belmont Japan's Epicharis, beaten a short head by Thunder Snow in the UAE Derby, and the Graham Motion trained Irish War Cry, who finished tenth in the Kentucky Derby but missed the Preakness, are vying for favouritism.