A full field of 12 three-year-olds will travel 1 1/16 miles on the dirt in Saturday's $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2). The 2022 Road to the Kentucky Derby challenge series test will reward the first four to cross the wire with qualifying points on a 50-20-1-5 structure towards the Run for the Roses on May 7.

The Brian Lynch-trained Classic Causeway was a convincing winner of the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) on the surface while making his 2022 debut, and the son of Giant’s Causeway seems poised for another big performance in his second run off the layoff. He is the Expert Pick of the Week.

Classic Causeway made his first appearance at Saratoga in the summer and flashed his immense potential from the start, leading at every call en route to a dominant 6 1/2-length victory in a seven-furlong event. The chestnut set the pace despite breaking from the 13 post in the subsequent Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland before ultimately finishing a clear third. In his juvenile finale, the Kentucky-bred was a clear runner-up in the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) beneath the Twin Spires.

He registered a lifetime best 99 Brisnet Speed number in his first run as a three-year-old, and the battle tested colt has room for improvement going forward. The Triple Crown prospect will be forwardly placed on Saturday in a field lacking an abundance of early tempo, which will allow pilot Irad Ortiz to get the youngster comfortable and in range from the opening bell prior to taking command in early stretch.

A bevy of lightly raced sophomores can make a run for the minor awards, and I will tab a pair of longshots that I believe will be up to the task. Chad Brown’s Money Supply has just a single six-furlong maiden race under his belt to date, but I was very impressed with how the son of Practical Joke graduated on the Tampa strip, and he could be any kind on the stretch out in distance. The $400,000 yearling purchase finished especially fast following a slow break, and I expect him to appreciate the added ground on Saturday.

Grantham has run over synthetic and muddy surfaces in his last pair, and I envision the Maker pupil running his best race to date in his local debut. By Declaration of War, the $280,000 juvenile purchase finished fourth in the deep Gotham S. (G3) last time out, and he should benefit from his run in that event, as well as drawing the rail for this one. Samy Camacho will pilot the tactical bay.

Expert Pick

An exacta with #4 Classic Causeway on top of #11 Money Supply and #1 Grantham in the Tampa Bay Derby is the Best Bet of the Week.

See also:
Study Guide: 2022 Tampa Bay Derby
Classic Causeway tops dozen in Tampa Bay Derby