Unrivaled Causeway Reigns Supreme, Secures Victory at Historic Belmont Derby

Classic Causeway: The Underdog Turned Turf Phenom

Classic Causeway, a horse initially overshadowed in Kenny McPeek’s barn, surprised everyone by winning the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational. Despite being considered the “other” horse in McPeek’s stable, Classic Causeway showcased outstanding performance as he made his turf debut just two weeks after finishing third in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby.

A Victory for the Underdog

In an unexpected turn of events, Classic Causeway triumphed over heralded European turf runners Nations Pride and Stone Age in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby. Starting at odds of 26/1, he led wire-to-wire, crossing the finish line three-quarters of a length ahead of the 2/1 favorite Nations Pride. The fellow Irish-bred, Stone Age, finished closely behind in third place, making it a remarkable upset.

Contrary to the expectations of many bettors, Classic Causeway proved his worth as a contender and rewarded those who placed their faith in him. A $2 wager on Classic Causeway yielded significant returns, with a payout of $55.50 for a win, $19.80 for a place, and $9.90 for a show. The $2 exacta bet resulted in an impressive payout of $408, while the $2 trifecta rewarded bettors with $1,876. For those who included Todd Pletcher’s Grand Sonata in the 10 cent superfecta, the payout soared to $1,671.70.

New Millionaire on the Turf

The triumph in the Belmont Derby not only established Classic Causeway as a formidable turf competitor but also boosted his career earnings to an impressive $1.12 million. With a record of 4 wins, 1 place, and 2 shows in nine starts, including victories in graded stakes races, this was his first Grade 1 triumph.

Classic Causeway’s victory was not only significant for his career but also how he accomplished it. Demonstrating his signature front-running style, he surged to an early lead. While the colt was pressed by Royal Patronage, jockey Julien Leparoux skillfully guided Classic Causeway into a smooth rhythm. This resulted in quarter-mile splits of 23.55 seconds, a half-mile split of 48.02 seconds, and three-quarters of a mile split of 1:12.33.

Unyielding to the challenges posed by Nations Pride and jockey Frankie Dettori in the final turn, Classic Causeway exhibited his tenacity and responded to the competition’s surge. In an exhilarating finish, Classic Causeway triumphed by a head at the wire, stopping the clock at an impressive 1:59.99 for the 1 ¼-mile distance.

A Strategic Move to Turf

Owners Patrick O’Keefe and Clarke Cooper made a pivotal decision to transfer Classic Causeway from Brian Lynch’s barn to the skilled hands of Kenny McPeek. This transition came after disappointing finishes for Classic Causeway in the Kentucky Derby and Florida Derby, where he placed 11th and finished last, respectively. Initially surprising, this move unveiled the astute breeding knowledge possessed by McPeek.

McPeek’s decision to run Classic Causeway on turf proved to be a masterstroke. O’Keefe, recognizing McPeek’s expertise, wholeheartedly supported the decision. Additionally, McPeek’s plan to race him just two weeks after his previous start showcased his confidence in the horse’s ability to handle the quick turnaround.

“He came back good and was eating the bottom out of the feedbag. What Kenny says, I do,” O’Keefe stated, highlighting the trust he has in the trainer’s judgment.

Julien Leparoux, the winning jockey, praised McPeek’s decision, acknowledging that it paid off remarkably. The victory in the Belmont Derby not only solidified Classic Causeway’s position as a potent turf performer but also indicated the potential for continued success in similar races.

The Turf Triple Series

Anchoring the Spring/Summer Meet

The Belmont Derby serves as the opening leg of the New York Racing Association’s (NYRA) Turf Triple series. As the penultimate day of the Belmont Park’s Spring/Summer Meet, excitement heightens, and the anticipation for the remaining two races intensifies.

The Saratoga Derby Invitational

The second leg of the Turf Triple series is the Saratoga Derby Invitational held on August 6. With a distance of 1 3/16 miles, this Grade 1 race at Saratoga Race Course promises to attract top turf talent. Following Classic Causeway’s impressive performance in the Belmont Derby, his presence in the Saratoga Derby Invitational is highly anticipated, building excitement among racing enthusiasts.

The Jockey Club Derby Invitational

The finale of the Turf Triple series is the Grade 3 Jockey Club Derby Invitational. Taking place during the Fall Meet at Belmont Park, this race covers a distance of 1 ½ miles. Classic Causeway’s triumph in the Belmont Derby positions him as a significant contender for this prestigious event, further fueling the narrative of his underdog success story.


Classic Causeway’s victory in the Belmont Derby propelled him from an unassuming afterthought to a turf phenom. The surprising win, achieved against accomplished European runners, showcased Classic Causeway’s prowess and established him as a force to be reckoned with on the turf.


1. How did Classic Causeway fare in previous races before the Belmont Derby?

Prior to the Belmont Derby, Classic Causeway finished third in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby. He also participated in the Kentucky Derby, placing 11th, and the Florida Derby, where he finished last.

2. What prompted the decision to move Classic Causeway to Kenny McPeek’s barn?

Following his underwhelming performances in the Kentucky Derby and Florida Derby, Classic Causeway’s owners decided to transfer him to Kenny McPeek’s stable. McPeek’s expertise in breeding and his reputation as a skilled trainer influenced this shift.

3. How did Classic Causeway adapt to racing on turf?

Classic Causeway excelled in his turf debut, winning the Belmont Derby in impressive wire-to-wire fashion. The decision to run him on turf proved successful, highlighting his versatility as a racehorse.

4. What are the upcoming races in the Turf Triple series?

The Turf Triple series consists of the Belmont Derby, Saratoga Derby Invitational, and Jockey Club Derby Invitational. The Saratoga Derby Invitational takes place on August 6, followed by the Jockey Club Derby Invitational during the Fall Meet at Belmont Park.

5. What are Classic Causeway’s career earnings and achievements?

With his victory in the Belmont Derby, Classic Causeway has now earned over $1.12 million throughout his career. He boasts an impressive record of 4 wins, 1 place, and 2 shows, with several of his victories coming in graded stakes races.

Picture of Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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