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Classic Empire clinches Kentucky Derby spot with Arkansas Derby win


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- Classic Empire charged from outside through the stretch to win the $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park and clinch a spot in next month’s Kentucky Derby.

A champion as a 2-year-old, Classic Empire on Saturday made up for a poor performance in February’s Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He caught Conquest Mo Money just shy of the wire and won by a half-length.

Conquest Mo Money also advanced to Churchill Downs, picking up 40 points in the final Kentucky Derby prep race. Malagacy, with Classic Empire the pre-race favorite, finished fifth Saturday but earned enough Kentucky Derby points in last month’s Rebel Stakes to move on to the May 6 race.

Classic Empire paid $5.80, $4.40 and 3.80.