Scalding boils over the competition in Challenger victory
The last time a Tampa Bay Derby winner won the Kentucky Derby, the horse was trained by a former rodeo bull rider.
That should bode well for Classic Causeway, the winner of Saturday’s $400,000 Grade Two 1 1/16-miles 42nd Tampa Bay Derby, as his conditioner, Brian Lynch, is a former rodeo bull rider. Carl Nafzger, a bull rider and PBR Ring of Honor member, saddled Street Sense to win the 2007 Tampa Bay and Kentucky Derbies.
Classic Causeway turned in a dominant performance where he wired the field, winning by 2 1/2-lengths. The chestnut son of Giant’s Causeway demonstrated his predilection for the racetrack, following up his victory in the Sam F. Davis (Gr. 3) last month, with regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons. His sharp break at the start of the race proved to be a defining moment and would set the tone for the rest of the contest.
“He’s always been a very good gate horse,” said Lynch. “He’s a horse who actually loves the gates, and it’s exciting for him to walk into them…it’s probably a good asset to have that early speed. You’re going to stay out of a lot of trouble when you can clear them early. I’m a big believer in pace makes the race. If you have a horse that can run them off their feet early and get a chance to take a breather, relax and still be able to finish that’s a great asset in a horse.”
The multiple graded stakes winner is campaigned by the partnership of Kentucky West Racing, LLC and Clarke M. Cooper. Lynch a former assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, has conditioned a number of prominent horses including Oscar Performance, Grand Arch, Coffee Clique, Claearly Now, Ginger Brew and 2015 Queen’s Plate winner Shaman Ghost.
“I don’t think that you could go to a casting studio in Hollywood and come up with a more eclectic group than this group,” said Lynch. “And as the media starts to meet them and gets a hold of them, I think they’ll end up being a reality show. It’s a great group of guys, it’s great for racing, I’m so thrilled to be involved, it’s a pleasure to have this horse end up in my barn.”
Classic Causeway’s may be pointed to the Blue Grass Stakes next month at Keeneland.
Scalding won his third consecutive start, as the 4-year-old son of the 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, dug deep to capture the 31st running of the $100,000 1 1/16-mile Michelob Ultra Challenge Stakes (Gr. 3).
The dark bay colt is trained by Hall of Famer Claude “Shug” McGaughey and was ridden to victory by Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, who has piloted Scalding in all five of his starts. Scalding showed his grit by digging and holding off the challenge of Cody’s Wish to win by a neck. It was the third consecutive win for Scalding and second at Tampa Bay Downs. The graded stakes winner is campaigned by Grandview Equine, Cheyenne Stable, LLC and LNJ Foxwoods.
”Every single race, he gets better and better,” said Castellano. “He’s the type of horse that moves forward in every single race. At the beginning of his career, the first couple of races, he was kind of a young horse. He’s started to mature. I like the way he did it today, every step of the way, he gave you the best he had. He fought all the way to the end with the other horses. They looked like they were going to go by, but he never let them pass. I think mentally he started to develop and is a lot more confident. I think he’s going to have a good future.”
Photos: Ben Baugh