Favored Classic Empire will not run in Saturday's Belmont Stakes due to an abscess in his right front hoof, trainer Mark Casse told Alicia Wincze Hughes of Blood Horse on Wednesday.
According to OddsShark, Classic Empire was a 2-1 favorite to win the race.
Wincze Hughes added that the abscess has bothered Classic Empire since the Holy Bull Stakes in February, and Casse provided further explanation for the decision to pull him from the Belmont, per Wincze Hughes: "When we came in this a.m., he couldn't hardly get around. In an hour it could bust, and he'd be fine but we wouldn't to do that."
Classic Empire entered the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes as one of the top contenders, but he had to settle for fourth- and second-place finishes, respectively.
With Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming and Preakness Stakes winner Cloud Computing not taking part in the Belmont, Classic Empire was the horse to beat in the Test of Champions.
Classic Empire's withdrawal leaves the Belmont Stakes without a clear favorite, as OddsShark lists Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin at Lee and Japanese horse Epicharis as co-favorites at 5-1.