Irad Ortiz racked up three stakes wins at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday, anchored by Classic Causeway’s success in the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. On the undercard, Ortiz guided 3-10 favorite Nest to a romp in the Suncoast S. on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, and lifted Bank on Shea to deny Baby Yoda in the Pelican S.
Sam F. Davis (G3)
Classic Causeway vaulted to the top of the Kentucky Derby (G1) points leaderboard with his breakout performance in the $200,000 Sam F. Davis.
Last seen finishing second in the key Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), Classic Causeway justified 8-5 favoritism despite being hounded early. The Brian Lynch trainee broke sharply and strode to the lead, only to have 13-1 Little Vic prove the gadfly on his outside. The also-eligible who drew in following the scratch of Howling Time, Little Vic matched strides with Classic Causeway in fractions of :22.66, :46.67, and 1:11.51. But the son of the late, great Giant’s Causeway was unfazed by the company.
Classic Causeway asserted his class rounding the far turn and spurted 3 3/4 lengths clear in the stretch. Crossing the wire with ears pricked, the chestnut polished off 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.80. His first stakes victory netted him 10 Derby points, for a total of 16, including four from the Kentucky Jockey Club and two from his third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1).
Shipsational rallied for second in a promising effort in his two-turn debut, and first try outside of New York-bred company. The Midshipman colt opened his account with four points. Volcanic was another length astern in third, faring best of the Mark Casse trio and earning two points. Strike Hard reported home fourth, good for one point.
Golden Glider held fifth by a half-length from fellow Casse pupil God of Love. Next came Little Vic, Kitten Mischief, Mr Rum Runner, Make It Big, Unpredictable Bay, and Trademark.
One of only three foals from the final crop of Giant’s Causeway, Classic Causeway turned heads with a blistering debut win at Saratoga. He’d placed in his ensuing stakes attempts, with less than ideal scenarios, and took a significant step forward here to advance his line to 4-2-1-1, $301,100.
Kentucky West Racing and Clarke Cooper’s homebred Classic Causeway is out of the multiple stakes-winning Thunder Gulch mare Private World. His pedigree features inbreeding to Storm Bird, as the paternal grandsire of Giant’s Causeway and the broodmare sire of Thunder Gulch.
Demoiselle (G2) heroine Nest kicked off her sophomore campaign by outclassing the field in the $100,000 Suncoast. Picking up 10 more Kentucky Oaks points to double her tally to 20, the Todd Pletcher filly now sits second on the leaderboard behind champion Echo Zulu. Like Echo Zulu, Nest is nominated to the Triple Crown.
Ortiz deftly maneuvered Nest from post 2 into an outside path by the clubhouse turn. The daughter of Curlin thereafter had clear aim in a tracking third. Longshot Mining Chrome scampered forward to set splits of :24.52 and :49.29, but faded when the attending Alittleloveandluck made her move passing six furlongs in 1:13.41.
Nest went after the new leader turning for home, and as soon as she straightened on her right lead, the race was over. The favorite put Alittleloveandluck away and drew off by six lengths in hand, covering the mile and 40 yards in a stakes-record 1:39.30.
Alittleloveandluck, an Arrogate filly who was coming off a victory in the Ginger Brew S. on turf, banked four points for finishing best of the rest. Blamethechampagne, still a maiden, got up for third and took home two points, and Ha’ Penny received one point in fourth. Princess Elin, Peaceful Surprise, and Mining Chrome rounded out the order under the wire. Mirth ‘n Merriment was scratched.
Campaigned by Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Michael House, Nest sports a mark of 4-3-0-1, $265,000. The smart Belmont Park debut winner was a grinding third in the Tempted S., but thrived on the stretch-out in the 1 1/8-mile Demoiselle.
Nest was bred by Ashview Farm and Colts Neck Stables in Kentucky, like her Remsen (G2)-winning stablemate, Mo Donegal, who was third in last Saturday’s Holy Bull (G3). A $350,000 Keeneland September yearling, Nest is a full sister to 2021 Santa Anita H. (G1) victor Idol. Their dam, Marion Ravenwood, is a stakes-winning daughter of A. P. Indy and Grade 2 queen Andujar.
Odds-on favorite Baby Yoda appeared poised to get the better of Bank on Shea in the $75,000 Pelican S., but the Shea D Boy’s Stable runner dug in, fought back, and prevailed by a head. Trained by Carlos David, the 3.80-1 Bank on Shea was earning his first open-company stakes win.
The son of Central Banker had scored in a pair of New York-bred stakes, the 2019 Great White Way division of the New York Stallion S. as a juvenile and the 2021 Affirmed Success S. Transferred from Tyler Servis to the David barn after that Apr. 23 victory, Bank on Shea was fourth to Collaborate in his Jan. 7 comeback at Gulfstream Park. The five-year-old improved for that tightener and starred second off the layoff here.
Nestled just behind the pace set by R Mercedes Boy through fractions of :22.45 and :45.63, Bank on Shea got a dream run up the rail on the far turn to take charge. Baby Yoda, who was stalking out wide throughout, accosted him in the stretch, but could not put away his stubborn foe.
Bank on Shea negotiated six furlongs in 1:09.61, faster than the 1:10.48 of the preceding Minaret S. (where Drop a Hint mugged stablemate My Destiny in a Herman Wilensky exacta). Pudding checked in another 1 3/4 lengths behind Baby Yoda in third, followed by Cajun Casanova, R Mercedes Boy, Boca Boy, and King Guillermo.
Bred by Dr. Scott W. Pierce and purchased for $110,000 at OBS April, Bank on Shea is out of the Uncle Mo mare Miss Moultree. His resume now reads 8-5-1-1, $497,750.