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Classic Empire clinches Kentucky Derby spot with Arkansas Derby win

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Classic Empire charged from outside through the stretch to win the $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park and clinch a spot in next month’s Kentucky Derby.

A champion as a 2-year-old, Classic Empire on Saturday made up for a poor performance in February’s Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He caught Conquest Mo Money just shy of the wire and won by a half-length.

Conquest Mo Money also advanced to Churchill Downs, picking up 40 points in the final Kentucky Derby prep race. Malagacy, with Classic Empire the pre-race favorite, finished fifth Saturday but earned enough Kentucky Derby points in last month’s Rebel Stakes to move on to the May 6 race.

Classic Empire paid $5.80, $4.40 and 3.80.

Long shot Puig finishes second in Del Mar debut

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DEL MAR, Calif. — Long shot Puig finished second in his career debut at Del Mar, with Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig supporting the horse on Twitter.

Puig lost by 3 1/4 lengths in the $60,000 fifth race on Sunday at the seaside track north of San Diego. He paid $17.80 and $9.60 at 32-1 odds under jockey Santiago Gonzalez.

The Kentucky-bred colt earned $12,000 in the 6 1/2-furlong race. He is trained by Scott Hansen and owned by Gary Broad.

Puig of the Dodgers re-tweeted a photo of the horse leaving the paddock before the race.

Songbird to run at Saratoga, won’t face males at Del Mar

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Songbird will return to Saratoga to run in the $700,000 Personal Ensign on Aug. 26 rather than taking on male horses in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar a week earlier.

Owner Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farm said Sunday that Saratoga is his favorite track and the Personal Ensign is the right race for the 4-year-old filly.

Songbird is 13-1 in her career and has earnings of over $4.5 million. Her only loss came by a nose to Beholder in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Songbird put in a five-furlong workout at Del Mar on Sunday, completing the distance in 1:01 in her home state of California.

Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, Songbird earned back-to-back Grade 1 victories at Saratoga last year in the Coaching Club American Oaks and the Alabama.