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Classic Empire trains for Belmont; True Timber won’t run

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NEW YORK — Preakness runner-up Classic Empire completed his last serious training for the upcoming Belmont Stakes.

The 3-year-old colt covered a half-mile in 50 seconds under exercise rider Martin Rivera at Churchill Downs in Louisville on Friday. Classic Empire’s workmate Airoforce was timed in 52 seconds.

Norm Casse, who assists his trainer-father Mark, says it’s all systems go for Classic Empire in the 1 +-mile Belmont on June 10. The colt is set to fly to New York on Tuesday.

Classic Empire, who finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby, and Lookin At Lee are the only horses expected to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown. Lookin At Lee was second in the Derby and fourth in the Preakness.

Meanwhile, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin says True Timber won’t run in the Belmont after being diagnosed with a fever on Friday. True Timber finished third in the Sir Barton on the Preakness day undercard and was fourth in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.

Trainer Todd Pletcher confirmed that Louisiana Derby runner-up Patch and stablemate Tapwrit will run in the Belmont after both completed five-eighths workouts in 1:01.45 on Friday at Belmont Park. Patch, the one-eyed horse, was 14th in the Derby, and Tapwrit was sixth.

Other horses probable to run in the Belmont are: Japan-based Epicharis, J Boys Echo, Peter Pan runner-up Meantime, Multiplier, Senior Investment and Twisted Tom. Santa Anita Derby winner Gormley and Wood Memorial winner Irish War Cry are possible, pending workouts this weekend.

British horse racing inspired by Formula 1 for new series

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LONDON (AP) British horse racing is drawing inspiration from motor racing for a new championship.

Twelve branded teams will compete over eight consecutive Thursdays at different race courses across Britain when “The Series” is launched by Championship Horse Racing in 2019.

The aim is for each team to feature 30 horses and four jockeys. Each of the teams will enter one horse into each of the races to create 12-runner fields.

Organizers say a Formula One-style points system will be used to determine the winners of championships for teams and jockeys.

Championship Horse Racing CEO Jeremy Wray says it’s a chance to engage fans with “bite-size, interactive content.”

The Series has been developed with the Jockey Club, which hopes to attract a new audience to horse racing.

Kanthaka wins San Vicente prep at Santa Anita

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Long shot Kanthaka won the $200,000 San Vicente Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths on Saturday at Santa Anita, giving Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer a second Kentucky Derby prospect.

Ridden by Flavien Prat, Kanthaka ran seven furlongs in 1:22.62 and paid $24.20, $7.20 and $4.80 at 11-1 odds in the field of six 3-year-olds.

Hollendorfer also trains Derby contender Instilled Regard.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Nero returned $7.80 and $5.60 at 9-1 odds. All Out Blitz, another 9-1 shot that was another 12 lengths back in third, returned $5 to show.”

Ax Man, the 2-5 favorite also trained by Baffert, was under intense early pressure from his post along the rail and faltered badly in the stretch to finish fourth.

“I would completely throw this race out,” said Drayden Van Dyke, who rode Ax Man.

Kanthaka was next-to-last midway around the far turn before cutting inside All Out Blitz a quarter mile from the finish of the Grade 2 race.

“He gave me a great run and he did everything right,” Prat said. “He broke like a bullet but then we had quite a lot of speed in front of us. So he sat really nicely behind the speed and made a really nice run around the turn.”

The victory, worth $120,000, increased Kanthaka’s career earnings to $153,440, with two wins in three starts.