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By Gulfstream Park Staff — Kentucky West Racing LLC and Clarke Cooper’s Classic Causeway is scheduled to make his next start in Saturday’s $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa at Gulfstream Park.

The Brian Lynch-trained son of Giant’s Causeway, who breezed a half-mile in 47.45 seconds Saturday at Gulfstream’s Palm Meadows Training Center in Palm Beach County, is coming off a 2 ¾-length victory in the March 12 Tampa Bay Derby (G2). The April 9 Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland had also been under consideration for Classic Causeway’s final prep for the May 7 Kentucky Derby (G1).

“We’re leaning toward the Florida Derby. He’s right here at Palm Meadows. We’ll just have to make a short trip down there Friday afternoon,” Lynch said. “We can school him Friday, stay the night, and run the next day. There’s always concern about the weather in Kentucky. As prestigious as the Blue Grass is, I think the Florida Derby is the equivalent to it and it does give the five weeks to the Derby.”

Classic Causeway, a first-out winner at Saratoga last summer before finishing third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland and second in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at 1 1/16 miles, captured the Feb. 12 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs in his 2022 debut in advance of his dominating front-running triumph in the Tampa Bay Derby.

“He was very impressive breaking his maiden at Saratoga. We’ve always had his 3-year-old campaign in mind, so we didn’t try to over-race him as a 2-year-old. We just wanted to educate him around two turns,” Lynch said. “We gave him a little time over the Christmas and New Year’s period. He’s just a colt that seems to be getting better with each race. We couldn’t be happier than where we’re at with him right now.”

Classic Causeway joins an already strong Florida Derby cast of Triple Crown contenders, including Fountain of Youth (G2) hero Simplification, Holy Bull (G3) winner White Abarrio and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up Pappacap.

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