NEW YORK — The interest in Calvin Klein’s fashion empire has turned into a horse race, and market sources put VF Corp. ahead by a nose Tuesday, while Phillips-Van Heusen, despite its interest, appears to have stumbled off the track.

Rumors about the possible sale of Calvin Klein Inc. have heated up this week, and the biggest surprise yet could come from VF by the end of the month — what several people familiar with the negotiations said could be a bid for both Calvin Klein Inc. and an offer for all of the bankrupt Warnaco Group, which owns the Calvin Klein underwear business and is the licensee for the designer’s denim.

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