Likely favorite Classic Empire to miss Belmont with foot injury

Classic Empire, the runner-up in the Preakness on May 20 at Pimlico, will miss Saturday's Belmont Stakes because of a foot injury.

Bloodhorse.com reported that an abscess was discovered on Classic Empire's right foot this morning, according to trainer Mark Casse.

Classic Empire, the likely Belmont favorite when the morning-line odds were released at today's draw, went toe-to-toe with Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming at the Preakness before being caught by Cloud Computing.

Casse told Bloodhorse said it's the same foot issue that bothered him after the Holy Bull in February and "when we came in this morning, he couldn't hardly get around."

A Pioneerof the Nile colt, Classic Empire won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall and the Arkansas Derby in April. He went into the Derby as the morning-line favorite.

Classic Empire was jostled around at the start of the Derby and had a rough early trip, but he roared back to finish an impressive fourth. That set up a duel with Always Dreaming at the Preakness that lived up to the hype.

The Preakness began how many expected and hoped it would, with Always Dreaming breaking to the lead and Classic Empire stalking him from just off his flank. They ran that way past the ¾-mile pole, but the duel died from there as Always Dreaming faded.

Classic Empire appeared to have the race in hand at the top of the stretch. But handicappers had warned all week that if Classic Empire and Always Dreaming wore each other out, another horse might swoop in to steal the Preakness.

That horse was Cloud Computing.

The Belmont field is left without the Derby and Preakness winners, and now its presumed favorite.

Without Classic Empire, Lookin At Lee will be the only horse racing Saturday that will have run in all three legs of the Triple Crown. The draw is later today.

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