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Keeneland Sales Graduates, 2016 Champions Classic Empire and Champagne Room Top Experimental Free Handicap

February 2, 2017

Click here for a video of Classic Empire at the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling Sale

LEXINGTON, KY (Feb. 2, 2017) – Keeneland sales graduates and champions Classic Empire and Champagne Room are highweights of their respective divisions on The Jockey Club’s 2016 Experimental Free Handicap announced today.

Classic Empire, who earned the 2016 Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male, was assigned top weight of 126 pounds, the standard impost for top Experimental horses. The high-weighted filly at 123 is Champagne Room, last year’s champion 2-year-old filly.

They lead the Keeneland sale graduates among the top-weighted juveniles in the male and female divisions of the Experimental, a weight-based assessment of the previous year’s leading 2-year-olds in the U.S. and Canada with weights compiled for a hypothetical race at 1 1/16 miles on dirt. The Experimental has been published annually since 1935.

Classic Empire races for John C. Oxley, who purchased him for $475,000 at Keeneland’s 2015 September Yearling Sale. Consigned by Warrendale Sales, agent, the Pioneerof the Nile colt won last year’s Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita, Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland and Bashford Manor (G3) at Churchill. He was bred by Steven Nicholson and Brandi Nicholson.

Trained by Mark Casse, Classic Empire is scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut Saturday in the Lambholm South Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream.

Other top-weighted males who are Keeneland sales graduates are Champagne (G1) and Hopeful (G1) winner Practical Joke, assigned 122 pounds; Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity (G1) and Bob Hope (G3) winner Mastery (121 pounds); FrontRunner (G1) and Sham (G3) winner Gormley (120 pounds); Remsen (G2) winner Mo Town (118 pounds); and, at 117 pounds apiece, Saratoga Special (G2) and Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) winner Gunnevera and Hopeful runner-up Royal Copy.

Gunnevera also is entered in Saturday’s Lambholm South Holy Bull for his 3-year-old debut.

These six horses also were sold at the 2015 September Sale; Practical Joke additionally sold at that year’s Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale.

Champagne Room, winner of the 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Santa Anita and Sorrento (G2) at Del Mar, is a graduate of two Keeneland sales. Denali Stud, agent, consigned the Broken Vow filly to the 2014 November Breeding Stock Sale, where she sold to Summerfield Sales, agent, for $70,000. Summerfield offered Champagne Room as a yearling at the 2015 September Sale.

Bred by Respite Farm, the filly races for Ciaglia Racing, Exline-Border, Gulliver Racing and Sharon Alesia, R. Christensen and Taylor Leegan. She is trained by Peter Eurton.

Additional Keeneland sales graduates who are top-weighted fillies include Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) and Miss Grillo (G3) winner New Money Honey (120 pounds) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf runner-up Coasted (119 pounds). Next at 118 pounds are Starlet (G1) winner Abel Tasman, Darley Alcibiades (G1) winner Dancing Rags and Spinaway (G1) dead-heat winners Pretty City Dancer and Sweet Loretta. Tied at 117 pounds are Del Mar Debutante (G1) winner Union Strike and Frizette (G1) winner Yellow Agate.

All of these fillies, except Sweet Loretta, are alumni of the 2015 September Sale. Sweet Loretta sold as a weanling at the 2014 November Sale as did Yellow Agate.

All Experimental Free Handicap weight assignments and past performances for the horses are available here.