Morello Eyes Derby Trail After Jimmy Winkfield Win
It was stakes winner number three and stakes performer number six for Classic Empire on Sunday when Morello (3c Classic Empire x Stop the Wedding, by Congrats) backed up his debut victory with a commanding five length win in the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes.
The seven furlong Aqueduct stakes saw the Steve Asmussen trainee race close behind the leader in the tightly packed field. As they entered the turn, the colt was guided wide to circle the field with the winner confronting the leading Life Is Great at the top of the stretch.
Morello passed by that one and it didn’t take long for him to leave the field well behind him as the favorite. Life Is Great had 4 ½ lengths on the rest of the field to give Morello nearly a 10-length advantage on everyone but the runner-up at the line.
Owned by Blue Lion Thoroughbreds and Craig and Victoria Taylor, Morello went through the sales ring three times – bringing $140,000 as a weanling, $200,000 as a yearling, and $250,000 last year as a 2-year-old when purchased by his racing owners.
“I’m going to let Steve and [assistant trainer] Toby [Sheets] make that decision, but I think [the Grade III Withers is a] realistic spot,” said Blue Lion Thoroughbreds’ Dave Lyon. “We’re excited, we think we have a good quality horse."
He was bred in Kentucky by Robert Tillyer and Dr. Chet Blackey out of the winning Congrats mare Stop The Wedding. The Classic Empire x A.P. Indy granddaughter cross is the same that produced Classic Empire’s multiple stakes winning Classy Edition and his Grade III fourth-place finisher Ottoman Empire among its five winners.
Stop The Wedding is a half-sister to Grade II-placed Saint Bernadette, who produced Grade I Preakness Stakes third Social Inclusion and stakes-placed Road to Damascus with both by Classic Empire’s sire.
Stop The Wedding returned to Classic Empire last year.
Classic Empire’s six stakes performers is fifth best in his crop by both number and percentage of stakes performers to named foals. His three stakes winners is fourth best among all second crop sires as well.