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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.

Late owner of Secretariat to receive Big Sport of Turfdom

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Penny Chenery, who owned Triple Crown winner Secretariat, will be presented posthumously with the Big Sport of Turfdom award given to a person who enhances coverage of thoroughbred racing through cooperation with media and racing publicists.

The Turf Publicists of America said Monday that Chenery will receive the award for the second time. She was the winner in 1973, when Secretariat swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont.

Chenery died Sept. 16 at age 95. For years after Secretariat’s Triple Crown win, she was a careful steward of the colt’s legacy.

The award will be presented to Chenery’s daughter, Kate Tweedy, at the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program’s luncheon on Dec. 5 in Tucson.

Chenery joins two-time winners jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., and trainers Bob Baffert and Carl Nafzger.

Rekindling storms home to win the 157th Melbourne Cup

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Rekindling stormed home to win the Melbourne Cup by a long neck on Tuesday, overhauling Johannes Vermeer near the finish to give trainer Joseph O’Brien a victory over his famous father in Australia’s most famous race.

Max Dynamite was 2 + lengths further back in third to give the Irish a 1-2-3 finish in the 157th running of the 2-mile classic .

Joseph O’Brien said one of the first things he did was phone his father, Aidan O’Brien, who trains Johannes Vermeer but was not at Flemington for the race.

“He is delighted. Unbelievable,” the younger O’Brien said. “I’m just so thankful to (Williams). They suggested to bring (Rekindling) down and that he’d have a good chance in the race and his prep went really good, and Corey gave him an unbelievable ride.”

It was a second Melbourne Cup victory for jockey Corey Brown, and a sixth for owner Lloyd Williams, who is also a co-owner of Johannes Vermeer.

“It’s extraordinary, absolutely extraordinary,” Williams said of Joseph O’Brien, who won in his first attempt at the Melbourne Cup. Williams said the 24-year-old former jockey had a big future as a trainer. “He’s going to emulate his father and maybe more.”

Big Duke was the first Australian-trained horse across the line, finishing fourth, in a field containing 11 foreign horses.

British-based jockey Frankie Dettori rode 2016 winner Almandin, which finished 12th.