There’s a Gleam, Men
The above cartoon says it all. Classic Empire redeemed himself in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Or at least that’s what everyone wants to believe. He certainly won the race like the champion he is. It finally felt like the natural progression we’ve been waiting to see since his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) victory back in November.
November seemed far back in our memories; but it still offered the gleam; the promise of the Kentucky Derby trophy. That promise echoes another gleam: when Marty Schottenheimer referenced the Lombardi Trophy to his Cleveland Browns, decades ago. ‘There’s a gleam men; there’s a gleam. Let’s get the gleam.’ While Marty’s speech is one of the great motivational speeches of all time (and he one of the great NFL coaches), he unfortunately never won a championship.
Classic Empire, likewise, is surrounded by people who have given their all to get him to this point. Mark Casse is nothing short of a magician to get this horse past all his problems this spring. It’s hard enough to get a horse ready for the first Saturday in May without setbacks piling up like they have for Classic Empire.
The Ultimate Question
The ultimate question is, will he continue to step forward, and enough so he stands in the winner’s circle on May 6 with the blanket of roses around his neck? Frankly, I hope so. My Derby horse was Mastery, and since his injury I’ve had a hard time getting behind another horse. Gunnevera is my current pick to win; mostly because I like his trainer and very much like his sire. Plus it would be a superb cap-off to the great spring Darby Dan Farm has had, with multiple colts by their sires vying for the big Derby preps. But a win by Classic Empire would give us something we’ve wanted all along – a definitive 3 year old star.
Good luck, Classic Empire. You may very well be back to form. If you don’t win on May 6, then I hope you at least run your race. Can we trust Classic Empire? That’s a head scratcher. But we know he has the talent. He’ll be chasing the gleam in #KYDerby143.