Classic Causeway takes Derby points lead

American Sailor
Classic Causeway. Photo SV Photography.

Classic Causeway was part of the pace early and had plenty left late to score in Saturday’s Grade 3 Sam. F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

The win propelled Classic Causeway to the top of the Kentucky Derby points leaderboard. The Brian Lynch-trained son of Giant’s Causeway now has 16 points, two more than Pappacap and Epicenter.

The Sam F. Davis was one of two Derby points races on the day. Out at Golden Gate Fields, Blackadder scored in the El Camino Real Derby. More on that in a moment.

Classic Causeway now has two wins from four career starts and earnings of $301,100. He concluded his 2021 campaign by finishing third in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and then second in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs.

In the Sam F. Davis, Classic Causeway, off as the 8-5 favorite in the 12-horse field, broke quickly to the early lead but soon was joined by 13-1 outsider Little Vic. Those two sped through a half-mile in 46.67 seconds and three quarters in 1:11.51.

“I was getting pushed by the speed horse, but my horse is fast, too,” winning rider Irad Ortiz, Jr. said. “He was traveling perfect and I didn’t want to take too much out of him and take him back too much.

“He broke good, so I just let him be free out there. I knew I had horse under me the whole time. Brian did a great job bringing him up to the race.”

In the lane Classic Causeway finished strongly to establish a winning margin of 3 ¾ lengths over the late-running Shipsational. Volcanic grabbed third, and Strike Hard, last early, was along for fourth. Those four received Derby points in a 10-4-2-1 format. Little Vic faded to seventh.

Classic Causeway paid $5.20 to win.

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“He showed up today. We always thought he has obvious quality, and he took the step he needed to keep the dream alive,” Lynch said. “The way he won today, I don’t think he was taxed. He was geared down late, and I think he’ll really move forward off this race.”

Meanwhile, out at Golden Gate Fields, Blackadder benefited from the troubled start experienced by favored Mackinnon to defeat that rival by a neck under jockey Edwin Maldonado.

However, Blackadder is trained by Bob Baffert, who is ineligible to compete in the Kentucky Derby this year. As a result, Blackadder, a Quality Road colt owned by a bulky ownership group with eight separate entities, will receive zero Kentucky Derby points.

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Blackadder does receive an automatic bid to the Preakness.

Blackadder joins Messier, Newgrange, and Corniche as Baffert-trained runners who have won Derby points races towards the ’22 Derby.

After Mackinnon, longshots Del Mo and Il Bellator rounded out the superfecta in the El Camino Real.

Kentucky Derby Points

1Classic Causeway (KY) / T: Brian Lynch / O: Kentucky West Racing LLC & Clarke Cooper16
2Pappacap (FL) / T: Mark Casse / O: Buttonwood Farm Inc.14
3Epicenter (KY) / T: Steve Asmussen / O: Westwind Farms14
4White Abarrio (KY) / T: Saffie Joseph Jr. / O: C2 Racing Stable LLC and La Milagrosa Stable, LLC12
5Mo Donegal (KY) / T: Todd Pletcher / O: Donegal Racing12
6Smile Happy (KY) / T: Kenny McPeek / O: Lucky Seven Stable10
7Slow Down Andy (CA) / T: Doug O’Neill / O: Reddam Racing LLC10
8Rattle N Roll (KY) / T: Kenny McPeek / O: Lucky Seven Stable10
9Make It Big (FL) / T: Saffie Joseph Jr. / O: Red Oak Stable10
10Major General (KY) / T: Todd Pletcher / O: WinStar Farm LLC and CHC Inc10
11Jack Christopher (KY) / T: Chad Brown / O: Jim Bakke, Gerald Isbister, Coolmore Stud & Peter Brant10
12Early Voting (KY) / T: Chad Brown / O: Klaravich Stables Inc.10
13Dash Attack (KY) / T: Kenny McPeek / O: Catalyst Stable, Magdalena Racing, Kevin Pollard & Patty Slevin10
14Courvoisier (KY) / T: Kelly Breen / O: Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings & James Spry10
15Call Me Midnight (KY) / T: Keith Desormeaux / O: Peter Cantrell10
16Barber Road (KY) / T: John Ortiz / O: WSS Racing LLC8
17Commandperformance (KY) / T: Todd Pletcher / O: Repole Stable & St. Elias Stable6
18Mackinnon (KY) / T: Doug O’Neill / O: Boom Racing, ERJ Racing, LLC, Madaket Stables LLC & Dave Kenney5
Several tied with 4 points.