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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.

Triple Crown winner Justify under observation at Del Mar

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DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) Triple Crown winner Justify has re-located to Del Mar where trainer Bob Baffert is keeping him under observation after swelling in his left front ankle emerged two weeks ago.

Baffert says Justify will probably just walk around the stable area for the next two weeks at the track north of San Diego. The probable scenario for the colt is a return to racing sometime in the fall with the ultimate goal being the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November.

“Right now, we’re just looking to get him 100 percent,” Baffert said Monday. “We’re in a holding pattern. I’d love to run him again because he’s so much fun and exciting to watch. We should know more in a couple of weeks.”

Justify has won all six starts in his brief career that began this year. He has won four straight Grade 1 races, including a sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become horse racing’s 13th Triple Crown champion.

The colt hasn’t had a workout since the Belmont Stakes on June 9.

Funtastic wins Monmouth’s United Nations Stakes in 23-1 upset

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OCEANPORT, N.J. — Funtastic led all the way in a 23-1 upset Saturday in the $300,000 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Chad Brown, the Eclipse Award winner the last two years as the nation’s leading trainer, got his third victory in the New Jersey’s biggest turf race. He won with Big Blue Kitten in 2013 and 2015.

The U.N. and the $1 million Haskell on July 29 are the two Grade 1 stakes at Monmouth.

Brown saddled four of the nine runners in the U.N. and ran 1-2 as Money Multiplier rallied to finish a half length behind Funtastic and jockey Antonio Gallardo.

The other two Brown horses were Silverwave (fifth) and Kurilov (eighth).

The time was 2:12.36 for 1 3/8 miles over the firm course.

Funtastic paid $48, $15.80 and $8.60. Money Multiplier, the 2-1 favorite, returned $4 and $2.80.

Bigger Picture, last year’s U.N. winner, was third, paying $5.80 to show.