The Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby is in the books, and Brian Lynch's Classic Causeway passed the test with flying colors. Take a look at this race review below ...
Brian Lynch's Classic Causeway #4, a colt by Giant's Causeway, slammed the door shut, accruing 50 Derby "Points." Inclement weather did not last long on Saturday afternoon, and soon the sun was shining with the track listed as "Good." Coming into this race, it was Lynch who held the ace, as his 3-yr-old was the winner of the local prep, the Sam F. Davis S. (G3). Once again, Lynch signed expert rider Irad Ortiz up for the piloting duties. Going off at odds of 4/5, it was apparent that most bettors believed that Kentucky West Racing's would rule the roost going 1 1/16th on the Main Track. On the tote, every runner was above 4/1, with Todd Pletcher's Major General #8 at that price.
Once they were in the gate, with starter holding the button, right from the break it was apparent that Ortiz and his mount meant to seize the lead. Shooting out like a flash, the colt made the lead rather easily, and never looked back. While others, like Pletcher's Major General #8 (went to his knees), it was Lynch's speedster that accelerated. Sure, Mike Maker's Grantham #1 (48/1), and Ed Barker's Shipsational #9 (5/1) attempted to rival the leader down the backstretch, but it was to no avail. The rest of the field mounted the best charge they could, but it was not enough in the end. With a dream trip, Classic Causeway #4 accelerated down the lane, and won going away by 2+ lengths in the end. Some pundits will probably offer that it was too easy ... the fractions were not challenging enough ... in the end, the field was not that tough ... possibly all of these are true. But we will have to adopt a wait-and-see approach.
What we do know at this point is that Classic Causeway's #4 total when it comes to Derby "Points" tops the chart at 66, with Steve Asmussen's Epicenter just a tick behind. This is without a doubt Lynch's best Derby hope, in what has already been a superb career. He now has the unenviable position of deciding what to do next ... Some in his shoes have decided to layoff, and wait till the "1st Saturday in May." They said that training could make the difference, but the record of success speaks to a much different notion--poor performance on the big day. Lynch could target Keeneland, and enter in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2), but again, this is speculation.
The Tampa Bay Derby (G2) is now in the books, and it is time to move on. Derby "Points" also went to Grantham #1 (20), Shipsational #9 (10), and at 39/1, Golden Glider #6 (5). As for the bettors, for their trouble they were handed $3.60, which speaks to the power of the "Win" Pool. Overall, it was a record day for the Tampa track, as they churned almost $21 million in handle. That was a record, and even though Aqueduct and Laurel cancelled because of a "Bomb Cyclone," it was still impressive. The money showed, and so did Brian Lynch's colt, as the Derby Trail takes a break before the final push in late March.