It is not uncommon for a race to be decided in the stewards’ cabin by a disqualification.
In the case of the Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1T) of one million dollars at Belmont Parka 26-1 victory in the lead by Classic pavement received a huge boost from a breach over issues with veterinary records that led to the scratching of Immanuel of the 3-year-old race.
When the peloton of 13 was drawn for the opening leg of the July 9 Caesars Turf Triple 1 1/4 mile, on paper there was a lively tempo up front between the fast Classic Causeway and Emmanuel, the winning leader of the Pennine Ridge Stakes (G2T).
But when state steward Braulio Baeza Jr. ordered Emmanuel removed on Saturday, it left Kentucky West Racing and Clarke M. Cooper Family Living Trust’s Classic Causeway in a timely position.
“I was really happy to see that,” winning coach Ken McPeek said of the scratch.
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Classic Causeway soars to victory
The connections were even happier after Classic Causeway controlled the pace and held off a closer cavalry charge at the end to take the three-quarter-length Grade 1 stakes on their grass-court debut. The flashy chestnut picked up his first victory since scoring March 12 at the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2), after which he continued on to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1).
“They would have executed themselves to death,” Kentucky West Racing manager Patrick O’Keefe said of Emmanuel. “It worked pretty well.”
The win by just under a length over the 2-1 favorite Pride of Nations served as vindication on many levels for a son of the Giant’s Causeway who had been dogged by speculation and criticism over the past few months. After finishing 11th in the Curlin Florida Derby presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm in Xalapa (G1), trainer Brian Lynch said Classic Causeway would not be competing in the Run for the Roses.
In turn, the owners pushed for a start in the Run for the Roses and the result was another 11th place finish. The 3-year-old transferred to McPeek after the Derby.
His first start for McPeek was a third in the June 25 Ohio Derby (G3), after which a chain of events resulted in Classic Causeway appearing in the Belmont Derby as a considerably longer prize. of two starters for McPeek behind Tiz the bomb .
“After the Ohio Derby, I had dinner with the owners and at one point told them they had to try the turf. He has a foot like a pancake,” McPeek said. “When he ran in the Ohio Derby he showed a lot of fighting in the last quarter mile, but he got tired during the race. That’s why I came back right away. I felt he needed to run. He was huffing and huffing and maybe he needed the run.”
Classic Causeway hits the head of the full race stretch
McPeek also thought the earlier, slower sections of a long turf race would suit Classic Causeway as well, convincing him to race with just two weeks off.
“He needed a bit of a different pace in a race so he could relax a bit. He has a big grass foot on him and his father was one of the best grass horses in Europe,” McPeek said. “Mentally he’s a tricky horse because he wants to do too much too soon in his races. I felt that in the mile and a quarter (on grass) nobody would test him like they do in these races. land in the spring. I thought he could relax and breathe a bit in a modest first half.”
When that turned out to be a very accurate prophecy, with the help of a zero, O’Keefe was able to savor his first Rank 1 win in over 25 years as an owner.
“We have a genius coach. It was Kenny’s idea,” O’Keefe said. “He looked me in the eye before this race and told me he wanted to take this horse around the world.”
Giving McPeek another long-odds Grade 1 win, Classic Causeway and jockey Julien Leparoux broke away from the back post in the pack of 12 and trailed by a 17-1 plus European traveler header Royal patronage in: 23.55 on firm grass with 32-1 shot Great Sonata five lengths in third.
Afterwards, the pace began to slow as Royal Patronage backed off, leaving Classic Causeway to go half a mile in: 48.02. Classic Causeway was sailing with a 1 1/2 lead, and McPeek loved what he saw.
“The other (Royal Patronage) backed off,” said McPeek, whose other starter, Tiz the Bomb, was ninth at 5-1, “and the rest is history. (New York Racing analyst Association) Andy Serling was thinking a bit he was a sprinter, but I think he was wrong.”
Classic Causeway never looked back in the final six furlongs, holding a two-length lead at the eighth pole and surviving a five-horse line behind him who tried unsuccessfully to stick him.
The final time for the mile and a quarter was 1:59.99 as Classic Causeway paid $55.50 to win, a far cry from its $3.60 payout for its last win four starts ago in the Tampa Bay Derby.
“The plan was to go in front. The only time I was a little worried was in the first corner when Joel (Rosario on Royal Patronage) was sort of going one-on-one with me,” said Leparoux. “When he picked up my horse started rolling and was happy to be in the lead. I was having him relax and power off. It was a good run for him. He felt pretty fresh today .”
Classic Causeway Powers Home
Godolphin’s Pride of Nations a son of local race Teofilo trained by Charlie Appleby and ridden by Frankie Dettori, rallied around eight wide in the stretch to take second place by a header over fellow European Stone Age . Owned by Peter Brant, Mrs John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Westerberg, the Group 3 winner Galileo’s son finished 11th at the start. Both horses debuted in the United States.
Although McPeek plans to race Classic Causeway overseas at some point, the August 6 Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational Stakes (G1T), the second leg of the Caesars Turf Triple, is Classic Causeway’s next target.
“The Saratoga Derby is a no-brainer,” McPeek said.
As for Emmanuel’s gratuity, after the race, Baeza did not specify the reasons, saying: “It is under investigation. There is no decision. If the investigation is not completed, how can we discuss it?”
Todd Pletcher, who trains Emmanuel for WinStar Farm and Siena Farm, said: “At some point I will comment, but right now I won’t. I think a mistake was made, but not by our team. I think it’s a classic case of the rules being in place and not being published properly.”
Baeza also said that the late withdrawal of the trained Todd Fincher smashing ticket in the Victory Ride Stakes (G3) was due to the lack of a viable workers’ compensation policy in New York.
Additionally, it was reported at the post-race stewards conference that My First Grammy, who was evacuated after Saturday’s second race, was later euthanized due to a fractured leg. The Curlin ridgling ran for the owners of Three Player’s Stable and Adam Portnoff was coached by Oscar Barrera III.
For Classic Causeway, the win was his fourth in nine starts and took his earnings to $1,106,100. The eighth of 11 foals from mare Thunder Gulch private world , he is his only winner. He comes from the last generation of the late Giant’s Causeway, which included only three foals.
Private World’s latest foals are a yearling colt and a filly born earlier this year, both by Justify .
Julien Leparoux savors victory aboard Classic Causeway