All things being equal, a stepping stone like the Sam F. Davis (G3) is generally not as stiff a test as a main event like the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). But Classic Causeway had an even easier time completing the double on Saturday. Unlike his prolonged pace challenge in the Davis, the 4-5 favorite controlled the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby throughout and sped to the top of the Kentucky Derby (G1) points leaderboard.
Trained by Brian Lynch and piloted by Irad Ortiz, the son of Giant’s Causeway zoomed to the lead through an opening quarter in :23.67 on a track labeled good. The 37.90-1 Grantham was hustled on the rail to keep tabs. Although he stuck to his task, he could not apply meaningful pressure.
Classic Causeway remained a comfortable length up despite easing the tempo in :48.17 and 1:13.18. The other Giant’s Causeway, Giant Game, raced in a handy third before dropping back. Trademark was thereabouts in the chasing pack for most of the way without posing a threat.
Shipsational, the Davis runner-up from an unpromising position, was hung out in a wide fifth until advancing on the far turn. But the 4.60-1 chance couldn’t land a blow once the winner revved up.
Still on the bridle turning for home, Classic Causeway found plenty when asked and pulled away by 2 1/2 lengths. The chestnut negotiated 1 1/16 miles on the drying-out surface in 1:44.90, much slower than his 1:42.80 in the pace-contested Davis on a fast track.
Classic Causeway added 50 points to his Derby account for a grand total of 66. He’d previously netted 10 for the Davis, four from his second in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), and two from his third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1).
Grantham boxed on stubbornly on the inside to hold second, good for 20 points. As the fourth-placer in the Withers (G3) last out, Grantham now has 21 points in all. Shipsational was a neck away in third, taking 10 points for an overall tally of 14. Golden Glider turned in a strong rally to snatch fourth by a neck from Trademark, receiving five points.
Spin Wheel worked his way from last into sixth. Next came Belgrade, Giant Game, Happy Boy Rocket, and 4.30-1 second choice Major General, whose race was effectively over when he stumbled at the start. Major General was never traveling and ended up 7 3/4 lengths behind Happy Boy Rocket in last. Strike Hard and Money Supply were scratched.
A homebred for Kentucky West Racing and Clarke M. Cooper, Classic Causeway improved his record to 5-3-1-1, $511,100. The Kentucky-bred stamped himself as one to follow with a dominant debut at Saratoga last summer. His aforementioned stakes placings were partly due to circumstances on the learning curve, but he’s put it all together convincingly at Tampa.
Classic Causeway is out of the multiple stakes-winning Thunder Gulch mare Private World, giving him inbreeding to Storm Bird.