Unbreakable Bond: The Timeless Magic of Saratoga Derby’s Classic Causeway

The Exciting Showdown at Saratoga Derby

Get ready for an adrenaline-pumping race as the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby takes center stage at Saratoga Race Course. This highly anticipated event, which is the second leg of the NYRA Turf Triple, promises to be a thrilling contest between eleven talented 3-year-olds. Spanning 1 3/16 miles on Saratoga’s Mellon Turf Course, the Saratoga Derby showcases a field filled with familiar faces, with seven of the top finishers from the Grade 1 Belmont Derby, including the impressive Classic Causeway, Nations Pride, Stone Age, and more.

A Turf Sensation: Classic Causeway

The spotlight is firmly on Classic Causeway, a horse that shook the racing world with his unexpected victory in the Belmont Derby. Despite entering the race as a 26/1 longshot, Classic Causeway proved his mettle by leading from gate to wire. This triumph marked his first-ever turf race, a stunning achievement for a horse previously known for his performances on dirt. Trainer Kenny McPeek expressed his pride in Classic Causeway’s performance and expects him to show improved rating skills in the Saratoga Derby.

Preceding his Saratoga Derby bid, Classic Causeway showcased his readiness by posting an impressive five-furlong breeze on Saratoga’s Oklahoma training track. Clocking in at 1:01.88, Classic Causeway’s workout placed him third out of 31 horses at that distance. While he may still carry the element of surprise, oddsmakers have assigned him morning line odds of 8/1, acknowledging his growing reputation and potential to excel on turf.

Intense Competition Becomes the Norm

One factor that contributes to the Saratoga Derby’s allure is the fierce competition among the contenders. The Belmont Derby, the first leg of the NYRA Turf Triple, witnessed a thrilling cavalry-charge finish. With only a 1 1/2-length margin separating the top six finishers, the intensity of the competition was palpable. Looking to dethrone Classic Causeway are three formidable opponents trained by Todd Pletcher: Grand Sonata, Emmanuel, and Annapolis.

Grand Sonata, a winner of two winter stakes races at Gulfstream Park, boasts a strong turf record. Emmanuel, originally scheduled to run in the Belmont Derby, shares a similar journey to Classic Causeway. Transitioning from dirt to turf, Emmanuel secured a graded stakes win in the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge. Annapolis, another Pletcher trainee, clinched a magnificent victory in the July 4 Manila Stakes at Belmont Park. With an impressive 91 Beyer Speed Figure and only a single loss in his four-race career, Annapolis is eager to make his mark.

The European Threat: Nations Pride and Stone Age

Adding an international flavor to the Saratoga Derby are two European contenders, Nations Pride and Stone Age. Nations Pride, an Irish-bred colt, caught everyone’s attention with a strong closing finish in the Belmont Derby, falling just three-quarters of a length behind Classic Causeway. After staying in New York to train, Nations Pride gained valuable experience and looks poised to make a significant impact at Saratoga.

Stone Age, another European challenger, demonstrated his capabilities by securing a respectable third-place finish in the Belmont Derby. After returning to Europe, Stone Age is back on American soil, ready to prove his mettle once again. With both Nations Pride and Stone Age seeking redemption, their presence elevates the Saratoga Derby to a truly international affair.

Other Noteworthy Contenders

While Classic Causeway, Nations Pride, Stone Age, and the Pletcher trio are the ones commanding the spotlight, we can’t overlook the other contenders who are determined to make their presence felt in the Saratoga Derby. Royal Patronage and Sy Dog, both having competed in the Belmont Derby, will be seeking redemption and a chance to showcase their potential. Additionally, Stolen Base enters the race aiming to improve upon his previous performance and surprise the competition. The race promises excitement from start to finish, with each contender bringing their unique strengths to the showdown.

A Battle of Skill, Strategy, and Determination

The Saratoga Derby is set to be an unforgettable event, with 11 exceptional 3-year-olds vying for glory. As the second leg of the NYRA Turf Triple, this race holds immense significance for trainers, jockeys, and punters alike. Classic Causeway, with his stunning upset victory in the Belmont Derby, has transformed from an untested turf curiosity into a serious threat. However, he faces strong opposition, particularly from the talented horses trained by Todd Pletcher. The European challengers, Nations Pride and Stone Age, also bring their skills to the table, hungry for redemption.

Excitement fills the air as racing enthusiasts eagerly await the Saratoga Derby, ready to witness a spectacle of speed, determination, and heart-stopping competition. What will unfold on the lush turf of Saratoga Race Course remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: the Saratoga Derby will provide an unforgettable display of equestrian prowess.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can Classic Causeway replicate his Belmont Derby success?

Classic Causeway’s remarkable victory in the Belmont Derby has raised expectations for his performance in the Saratoga Derby. While the competition remains fierce, Classic Causeway has shown potential and adaptability. His strong training sessions and improved rating skills make him a formidable contender in the race. However, the outcome of any horse race is subject to numerous factors, making it an exciting event to watch.

2. What makes the Saratoga Derby a significant race?

The Saratoga Derby holds immense importance within the racing community due to its status as the second leg of the NYRA Turf Triple. This prestigious series of races highlights the talents of 3-year-old turf horses. The Saratoga Derby, along with the Belmont Derby and Jockey Club Derby, showcases the skills, strategies, and determination of the competing horses, jockeys, trainers, and owners.

3. How do European contenders fare in American turf races?

European contenders have a rich history of success in American turf races. Their expertise on turf surfaces and diverse racing styles often make them formidable opponents. The Saratoga Derby welcomes two European contenders in Nations Pride and Stone Age. These horses bring their unique strengths, providing an exciting international dimension to the race.

4. What are the key factors to consider when betting on the Saratoga Derby?

When placing bets on the Saratoga Derby, it is crucial to consider various factors to increase your chances of making informed selections. Factors to assess include recent race performances, training sessions, jockey assignments, post positions, turf conditions, and previous records on similar tracks. Additionally, understanding each contender’s racing style and how it aligns with the race dynamics can help identify potential winners.

5. How can I attend the Saratoga Derby?

If you are eager to witness the excitement of the Saratoga Derby firsthand, attending Saratoga Race Course is a thrilling experience. You can purchase tickets through the official Saratoga Race Course website or explore various authorized ticket vendors. Make sure to plan your visit in advance, considering accommodation, travel arrangements, and any on-site regulations due to the ongoing pandemic. Prepare to immerse yourself in the rich traditions and electric atmosphere that Saratoga Race Course offers.


The Saratoga Derby brings together a field of talented 3-year-old horses competing for coveted honors in a thrilling turf showdown. With Classic Causeway surprising the racing world in the Belmont Derby, the stakes are high, and the competition fierce. Nations Pride and Stone Age seek redemption, while formidable contenders trained by Todd Pletcher aim to further solidify their turf prowess. The race promises to be a captivating spectacle for racing enthusiasts worldwide. Let the Saratoga Derby begin!

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Doug I. Jones

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