Classic Empire Colt Much the Best in G1 Arkansas Derby
Angel of Empire (3c Classic Empire x Armony’s Angel, by To Honor and Serve) made it clear he’ll be a major contender in this year’s Grade I Kentucky Derby on Saturday with a 4 ¼ length Grade I Arkansas Derby victory.
Racing under five lengths behind the leader early in the 1 1/8 mile dirt race, he didn’t make a serious move until they were approaching the far turn. Piloted wide by Flavien Prat to give him a clear path to the front, the colt ate up the distance between him and the front around the turn before taking command near the stretch.
It didn’t take long for Angel of Empire to have a clear lead and the distance between him and the rest of the field increased until he had a 4 ¼-length advantage at the wire.
“Very impressive, very happy with the performance,” trainer Brad Cox told Daily Racing Farm. “We always thought he was a mile-and-a-quarter horse, and he showed today the longer the better. Flavien put him in a great position, and he finished up great.”
It was the fourth win in six starts for Angel of Empire, who came into this race after a win in the Grade II Risen Star in February. The Arkansas Derby pushed his career earnings to $1,069,375.
Angel of Empire is owned by Albaugh Family Stables and was bred by Forgotten Land Investment Inc. and Black Diamond Equine Corp.
Angel of Empire is the first foal out of a half-sister to Grade II winner Conquest Big E and stakes winner Aquapazza with the latter producing stakes placed Infringement. The page also includes American Pharoah’s Grade II winner and Grade I placed Forbidden Kingdom, Grade II winner Softly, and Grade III winner and multiple Grade I-placed Til Forbid.
Angel of Empire’s dam also has a yearling Classic Empire colt named Raconteur.
Angel of Empire is the first Grade I winner for his Arkansas Derby winning sire with Classic Empire siring eight stakes winners and 14 stakes performers in his first two crops. The stallion’s two stakes winners in 2023 is fourth best in his crop and his four stakes performers is fifth best.