Creative Cause moved to the fore of the California two-year-old division in Saturday's Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes, recording a convincing 3 1/4-length victory at Santa Anita. With jockey Joel Rosario up, the Mike Harrington-trained colt stalked the pace in second before striding away from his rivals in upper stretch. The gray youngster completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:42 3/5 on the fast track, establishing himself as a top contender for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in the process.
"The race set up good and he did everything easy," Rosario said. "He showed me that he was the best horse in the race. This was his first time going long. The horse on the front had an easy lead and I was just tracking him. When I asked him to go, he just took off. I don't know how good he is, but he ran his best race today."
Off as the 9-5 second choice among six rivals, Creative Cause paid $5.80, $2.40 and $2.10 to his supporters.
"He raced in a perfect position, when Joel asked him, he ran by them and drew off by many, so I'd have to think he's the best horse on the West Coast, the best two-year-old," Harrington said. "Yes, we will take him to the Breeders' Cup (Juvenile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5) off of this race. That's the reason we ran him. It's a 'Win and You're In' race."
Owned by Heinz Steinmann, Creative Cause captured his first two career starts, including the Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar, prior to a troubled effort in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity on September 7. He was elevated one spot to second by the stewards that afternoon and gained a measure of revenge Saturday upon Futurity winner Drill, who recorded a non-threatening second in the Norfolk.
"If he hadn't have been knocked around (in the Futurity), he'd have won then, too," Harrington said.
The Kentucky-bred son of Giant's Causeway has now earned $323,000 from his 4-3-1-0 ledger.
Drill rallied from fourth to finish a clear second, 3 1/4 lengths better than pacesetter Ruler of Dubai, who established splits in :23 3/5, :48 2/5 and 1:12 3/5 before being overhauled by the winner.
"The horse that won, he's a really good horse," said Bob Baffert, trainer of the runner-up. "We just gave him the race. When you're going long for the first time, I think he (jockey Martin Garcia) just rode him with too much confidence and had him back there...he rode him like it was a synthetic race. But the winner's a good horse, so we just have to improve off that, and he'll get something out of that race."
Basmati, Loukas and Super Candy rounded out the order of finish.
Bred by James C. Weigel, Creative Cause brought $135,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. His dam, the Siberian Summer mare Dream of Summer, was a six-time stakes winner who garnered the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap, Grade 2 A Gleam Invitational Handicap and Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo Handicap, and she was twice runner-up in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap. Dream of Summer has since produced an unnamed yearling filly by Distorted Humor and a 2011 filly by Tiznow.