After racking up multiple Graded stakes wins on dirt already in his career, Classic Causeway demonstrated an affinity for the turf on Saturday, July 9,, defeating a top-class international field in the $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) at Belmont Park in his debut over a new surface.

The son of Giant’s Causeway took to the turf, grabbing the lead away from the gate in the 1 ¼-mile test. He never relinquished the lead and led wire to wire to score by three-quarters of a length at the finish under jockey Julien Leparoux. He covered the distance in 1:59.99 and earned millionaire status with the victory, increasing his bankroll to $1.12 million. The win improved his record to 9-4-1-2.

Owned by Kentucky West Racing and Clarke Cooper, Classic Causeway won the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) and the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) over the winter at Tampa Bay Downs before finishing 11th in both the Florida Derby (G1) and the Kentucky Derby (G1) for former trainer Brian Lynch. Classic Causeway was transferred to trainer Ken McPeek following the Derby and ran third for McPeek in the Ohio Derby (G3) on June 25 at Thistledown.

“We knew he was pretty much the speed in the race,” said co-owner Patrick O’Keefe of Kentucky West Racing. “He’s like a 14-year-old kid that can throw a baseball 100 miles per hour. Now, he’s slowed down a little to 90 miles per hour and can hit the play.

“[McPeek] is amazing,” O’Keefe added. ‘To me, he’s a life-send. I have someone who really knows the breeding and knows where to put them. I loved [the idea of running him on the turf].”

Bred in Kentucky by Kentucky West Racing and Clarke Cooper Family Trust, Classic Causeway is produced from the Thunder Gulch mare Private World. The Belmont Derby was the first leg of the Turf Triple series, which will be followed by the $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational (G1) on Aug. 5 and the Jockey Club Derby Invitational (G3) during the Belmont Fall meet.