Classic Empire narrowly held off the late spurt from Not This Time to win the Grade 1 Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and potentially set up a rivalry for next year, at Santa Anita.
Eleven lined-up for a race won last year by subsequent Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist.
Syndergaard, Theory, Three Rules and Classic Empire all vied for the lead from the break and at the first turn it was Syndergaard who gained the day from Classic Empire.
Settling down and racing down the back stretch, Syndergaard led Classic Empire narrowly with Three Rules right on their heels and then Theory and Not This Time.
At the turn for home, Classic Empire moved tto the lead on the outside of Syndergaard and went clear, with Not This Time and Practical Joke closing.
But Classic Empire was two lengths clear of Not This Time who closed in the final half a furlong. It looked to be tight in the dying strides, but Julien Leparoux just had enough in hand to hold off Not This Time and give trainer Mark Casse another big race success.
Practical Joke was well back in third, ahead of Lookin At Lee.
Classic Empire, a son of Pioneerof The Nile, made it four wins from five starts, with his only blemish coming when he whipped around and lost his rider.
For Not This Time it was a case of what might have been and connections will be relishing the opportunity of a rematch in the Triple Crown.