Derby points update: Classic Causeway scores in Tampa Bay Derby

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Classic Causeway and Irad Ortiz, Jr. won the Tampa Bay Derby. Photo by SV Photography.

Classic Causeway lived up to the hype in the 42nd edition of the Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, breaking from the starting gate like a lightning bolt and sustaining his energy throughout to post a 2 ½-length victory from game long shot Grantham. Shipsational rallied for third, another neck back, with Golden Glider fourth in the 10-horse field.

The victory earned Classic Causeway 50 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points, putting him No. 1 on the list with 66 points and guaranteeing him a spot in the Kentucky Derby on May 7 at Churchill Downs.

Grantham climbed into the Kentucky Derby picture by earning 20 points, giving him 21, while Shipsational earned 10 points to move to 14.

“It’s pretty exciting stuff,” said trainer Brian Lynch after Classic Causeway completed the mile-and-a-sixteenth on a good main track in 1:44.90 under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., to become the first horse since Destin in 2016 to win both the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby and the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes. “He’s just come into his own right now and just to watch him, he seems like a happy horse that enjoys his job. He’s very, very good right now.”

Ortiz, who won three consecutive stakes on the card – the Grade III Florida Oaks on the turf on Dolce Zel, the Columbia Stakes on the turf on Heaven Street and the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby – made it sound as if he didn’t need to do much, himself.

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“He gave me the same performance again (as in the Grade III Sam F. Davis). He broke good, he gave me good position and I just went from there,” Ortiz said. “He was traveling perfect all the way to the 3/8-mile pole. When I asked him, he was there. Getting close to the wire, he was looking around a little bit, but I felt I had a lot more horse.

“He’s acting like he can carry his speed more,” said Ortiz, who has ridden nine winners in his two recent visits to the Oldsmar oval. “These last couple of races he’s been acting after the wire like he still has more left. I don’t want to jinx it, but I think there is something more there.”

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Classic Causeway, a son of Giant’s Causeway owned by Patrick O’Keefe’s Kentucky West Racing and Clarke M. Cooper, earned $210,000 for his third victory from five starts, raising his earnings to $511,100. He paid $3.60 to win as the heavy betting favorite.

His explosiveness from the gate was a big factor in the victory, Lynch said.

“He has always been a very good gate horse and he’s a horse that actually loves the gate and is excited to walk into it,” the conditioner said. “And as soon as they pop, he’s off. That early speed is a great asset to have because you’re going to stay out of trouble when you can break fast and clear. When you have a horse that can run them off their feet early, get a chance to take a breather and relax and still be able to finish, that is a great asset in a horse.”

“He’s great when he leaves the gate because you don’t have to use him,” Ortiz explained. “You don’t have to ask him to do anything. He does it by himself, then he relaxes going into the first turn and on the backside. He waits for you. He’s a smart horse.”

Lynch said Classic Causeway is likely to race once more before the Kentucky Derby, perhaps on April 9 at Keeneland in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass.


1Classic Causeway (KY) / T: Brian Lynch / O: Kentucky West Racing LLC & Clarke Cooper66
2Epicenter (KY) / T: Steve Asmussen / O: Westwind Farms64
3Un Ojo (NY) / T: Anthony Dutrow / O: Cypress Creek Equine54
4Simplification (FL) / T: Antonio Sano / O: Tami Bobo54
5Morello (KY) / T: Steve Asmussen / O: Blue Lion Thoroughbreds, Craig Taylor, and Diamond T Racing50
6Forbidden Kingdom (KY) / T: Richard Mandella / O: MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm LLC50
7Smile Happy (KY) / T: Kenny McPeek / O: Lucky Seven Stable30
8Grantham (KY) / T: Michael Maker / O: Three Diamonds Farm21
9In Due Time (KY) / T: Kelly Breen / O: Edge Racing, Medallion Racing, and Parkland Thoroughbreds20
10Ethereal Road (KY) / T: D. Wayne Lukas / O: Aaron Sones20
11Dean’s List (KY) / T: Todd Pletcher / O: WinStar Farm LLC and Siena Farm LLC20
12Barber Road (KY) / T: John Ortiz / O: WSS Racing LLC18
13Zandon (KY) / T: Chad Brown / O: Jeff Drown14
14Shipsational (NY) / T: Edward Barker / O: Iris Smith Stable LLC14
15Pappacap (FL) / T: Mark Casse / O: Buttonwood Farm Inc.14
16White Abarrio (KY) / T: Saffie Joseph Jr. / O: C2 Racing Stable LLC and La Milagrosa Stable, LLC12
17Mo Donegal (KY) / T: Todd Pletcher / O: Donegal Racing12
18Tiz the Bomb (KY) / T: Kenny McPeek / O: Magdalena Racing10
19Slow Down Andy (CA) / T: Doug O’Neill / O: Reddam Racing LLC10
20Rattle N Roll (KY) / T: Kenny McPeek / O: Lucky Seven Stable10
21O Captain * (KY) / T: Gustavo Delgado / O: OGMA Investments LLC and Jack Hardin Towell Jr.10
22Make It Big (FL) / T: Saffie Joseph Jr. / O: Red Oak Stable10
23Major General (KY) / T: Todd Pletcher / O: WinStar Farm LLC and CHC Inc10
24Jack Christopher * (KY) / T: Chad Brown / O: Jim Bakke, Gerald Isbister, Coolmore Stud & Peter Brant10
25Happy Jack (KY) / T: Doug O’Neill / O: Calument Farm10
26Golden Code (NY) / T: Todd Pletcher / O: Calument Farm10
27Early Voting (KY) / T: Chad Brown / O: Klaravich Stables Inc.10
28Dash Attack (KY) / T: Kenny McPeek / O: Catalyst Stable, Magdalena Racing, Kevin Pollard & Patty Slevin10
29Courvoisier (KY) / T: Kelly Breen / O: Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings & James Spry10
30Call Me Midnight (KY) / T: Keith Desormeaux / O: Peter Cantrell10