Unraced since a second in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs last fall, Classic Causeway opened his three-year-old campaign with an eye-catching victory in Saturday’s $250,000 Sam F. Davis S. (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby series qualifier awarded points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers.

Along with the Davis, Tampa Bay offered a Kentucky Oaks qualifier, the 100,000 Suncoast S., and Nest returned to the races with a convincing triumph. The Todd Pletcher-trained daughter of Curlin was making her first start since winning the Demoiselle (G2) at Aqueduct in early December.

Classic Causeway notched his first stakes tally with the 3 3/4-length decision, and the chestnut colt looked good doing so. Breaking on top with Irad Ortiz Jr., the Brian Lynch trainee dueled through hot fractions (:22.66, :46.67, and 1:11.51) before drawing off stylishly in the stretch.

Off as the 8-5 favorite among 12 runners, Classic Causeway completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.80. He’s a homebred son of Giant’s Causeway for Kentucky West Racing and Clarke M. Cooper.

Shipsational, who was making his first start since a pair of New York-bred stakes wins last fall at Belmont Park, rallied for second, a length better than last-out Gulfstream maiden scorer Volcanic. Strike Hard came next in fourth, followed by Golden Glider, God of Love, Little Vic, Kitten Mischief, Mr Rum Runner, Make It Big, Unpredictable Bay, and Trademark.

Classic Causeway impressively captured his career debut at Saratoga in early September, and he jumped to stakes competition with a third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. Favored in the Kentucky Jockey Club, he wound up a non-threatening second to Smile Happy. Next in third came White Abarrio, who came to win the Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park last weekend.

Along with continuing to flatter the form of the Kentucky Jockey Club, Classic Causeway established himself as a legitimate Kentucky Derby contender in the Davis. The speedy Kentucky-bred is out of the stakes-winning Thunder Gulch mare Private World.

In the Suncoast, Nest angled out from her inside post entering the first turn, stalking the pace three-wide before making her move on the final turn, and seized command entering the stretch. The odds-on favorite widened her advantage to six lengths on the wire, completing a mile and 40 yards in 1:39.30, and Irad Ortiz was up for owners Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Michael House.

Nest has now won 3-of-4 starts, the lone setback being a close third in the Tempted S. (G3) the second time out.

Alittleloveandluck, who tracked the pace with the winner, easily held second. Blamethechampagne, Ha’ Penny, Princess Elin, Peaceful Surprise, and Mining Chrome completed the order of finish.

The Suncoast was worth 17 points (10-4-2-1) toward a Kentucky Oaks berth.

Bred in Kentucky by Ashview Farm and Colts Neck Stables, Nest was acquired for $350,000 at the 2020 Keeneland September yearling sale. She’s a full sister to Idol, winner of last year’s Santa Anita H. (G1), and both are out of the stakes-winning A.P. Indy mare Marion Ravenwood.