The Grade 1 TVG Breeders' Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance at Del Mar was the most prestigious race for 2-year-olds in North America last fall, but the Nov. 27 Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs has been the more impactful race in the months since.
Classic Causeway, second in the Kentucky Jockey Club, became its third participant to capture a graded stakes for sophomores in 2022 when rolling by 3 3/4 lengths in the $200,000 Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs Feb. 12. His success followed the achievements of Call Me Midnight, who took the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes after a seventh in the Kentucky Jockey Club, and White Abarrio, who triumphed in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes after a third in the Kentucky Jockey Club.
Classic Causeway wasted no time Saturday in announcing his presence. Fresh in his first racing appearance this year, he quickly struck the front early under Irad Ortiz Jr. and sparred with stretch-out sprinter Little Vic through fractions of :22.66, :46.67, and 1:11.51.
Leaving the second of two turns, Little Vic began to retreat, leaving Classic Causeway by himself. Under right-handed urging from Ortiz in early stretch, Classic Causeway opened up, and Ortiz shifted to a confident hand ride over the race's closing stages. The winner completed 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.80, paying $5.20.
New York-bred stakes winner Shipsational, starting around two turns for the first time in his season debut, rallied under Javier Castellano to grab second. Volcanic, winner of a fast maiden race at Gulfstream Park Jan. 8, was a wide third, followed by Gulfstream Park's Mucho Macho Man Stakes runner-up Strike Hard in fourth.
Off a step behind his rivals and eighth into the first turn, Shipsational performed well in his first start in open company, racing between rivals late on the backstretch and second turn before closing past horses when angled out for the stretch.
The top four finishers earned qualifying points on a 10-4-2-1 scale toward the May 7 Grade 1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs. With six points already earned as a 2-year-old, when he was third in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders' Futurity and runner-up in the Kentucky Jockey Club, Classic Causeway moved into first place on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 16 points.
"It was a great effort. He showed up today," trainer Brian Lynch said in a TVG interview. "We always hoped that he was of this quality, and (in) his first start of his 3-year-old year, he took the step he needed to keep the dream alive."
Bred in Kentucky, Classic Causeway is one of just three foals from the final crop of elite stallion Giant's Causeway, who died April 2018 at age 21 following an illness. Classic Causeway is a homebred for owners Kentucky West Racing and Clarke Cooper.
"It's quite a group of eclectic characters, this group that owns this horse," Lynch said. "You couldn't go to a casting studio in Hollywood and come up with a better group of guys."
Classic Causeway is the first stakes winner produced from the Thunder Gulch mare Private World, who won the Moccasin Stakes and Anoakia Stakes as a juvenile in Southern California in 2005. Eight of her 10 foals have raced, with five victorious. Her two unraced foals are a Lookin At Lucky 2-year-old filly and a Justify yearling colt. She was bred back to Justify for 2022.
With Saturday's victory, Classic Causeway improved his record to 2-1-1 in four starts and increased his earnings to $301,100.
2022 Sam F. Davis S.
February 12th, 2022
- Owner / Kentucky West Racing LLC and Cooper, Clarke M.
- Breeder / Kentucky West Racing LLC & Clarke M. Cooper Family Living Trust
- Owner / Iris Smith Stable
- Breeder / Mr. & Mrs. Bertram R. Firestone
- Owner / Breeze Easy, LLC
- Breeder / Don Alberto Corporation
- Owner / Miracle's International Trading, Inc.
- Breeder / Gary & Mary West Stables, Inc.
- Owner / Conrad Farms
- Breeder / Nursery Place & Dicken Equine
- Owner / Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Barber, Gary
- Breeder / William D. Graham
- Owner / Victoria's Ranch
- Breeder / Stride Sales and Syndicate
- Owner / Augustin Stable
- Breeder / George Strawbridge Jr.
- Owner / Lanes Mark Racing Stable and Pate, Danny
- Breeder / J. F. Webb
- Owner / Red Oak Stable (Brunetti)
- Breeder / SHH Ventures
- Owner / Barlas, Ted, Barlas, Jean and Barlas, Chris
- Breeder / Brereton C. Jones