The 81st running of the Arkansas Derby may have shed some clarity on the Kentucky Derby picture. Folks far and wide have been searching for a favorite pony to ride on the first Saturday in May. This year’s Derby trail has been littered with fallen favorites in many of the prep races. On April 15, Juvenile Champion Classic Empire showed everyone he might just be the man. A challenging winter that saw injury and a lackluster third place finish in his only 2017 start had some scratching their head about this son of Pioneerof the Nile. Trainer Mark Casse sent him to post at Oaklawn Park with the understanding it was time to put up or shut up with this talented horse. Following a powerful run through traffic and a ground-gobbling finish that saw him run down the leaders inside the final sixteenth, the Casse trained colt launched himself into the starting gates of the Run for the Roses. “It was a very rewarding race after a frustrating winter,” says assistant trainer Norm Casse. “We feel like he can really move forward from here.” Classic Empire…Kentucky Derby…Hmmmmm! (photo by Coady)