Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Classic Causeway

February 15th, 2022

The late, great Giant’s Causeway was a sensational racehorse and stallion, winning half a dozen Group 1 races and leading the North American sire rankings on three occasions.

The progeny of Giant’s Causeway have won seemingly countless major races through the years, but an American classic has proven elusive. Giant’s Causeway died in 2018, but perhaps his son Classic Causeway—hailing from Giant’s Causeway’s final crop of foals—can change the equation and give his sire a posthumous Kentucky Derby (G1) winner.

Classic Causeway was an accomplished juvenile, placing in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. But he’s upped his game at age three, with victories in the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) and Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs ranking as the highlights from his winter campaign.

But does Classic Causeway have the pedigree to win the Kentucky Derby? That’s an interesting question. Stamina shouldn’t be an issue for the chestnut colt, considering Giant’s Causeway’s progeny win at a lofty average distance of 8.1 furlongs. The best include 2019 Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar and 2014 champion two-year-old filly Take Charge Brandi.

Classic Causeway Pedigree

Storm Bird, 1978
Storm Cat, 1983
Terlingua, 1976
Giant's Causeway, 1997
Rahy, 1985
Mariah's Storm, 1991
Immense, 1979
Classic Causeway, 2019
Gulch, 1984
Thunder Gulch, 1992
Line of Thunder, 1987
Private World, 2003
Dmitri, 1985
Rita Rucker, 1991
Darlease, 1984

The problem, as hinted earlier, is Giant’s Causeway’s record in the American classics. His progeny have gone 0-for-9 in the Kentucky Derby, and they’re likewise winless in the Preakness S. (G1) and Belmont S. (G1). A few have cracked the trifecta, such as Mr. Big News (third in the 2020 Kentucky Derby), Creative Cause (third in the 2012 Preakness), and Destin (second in the 2016 Belmont). But on the whole, Giant’s Causeway progeny have struggled to peak during the spring of the sophomore seasons.

The good news for Classic Causeway is the speedier and Derby-centric breeding in the bottom half of his pedigree. His dam, Private World, was an early-maturing sprinter who won the Moccasin S. dashing seven furlongs as a juvenile. Private World, in turn, is a daughter of 1995 Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch, best known as the sire of 2001 Preakness and Belmont winner Point Given.

Thunder Gulch has also enjoyed success as a broodmare sire, with his daughters foaling 2015 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Lovely Maria and 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Bayern, to name a few.

Again, stamina shouldn’t be an issue for Classic Causeway; the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Kentucky Derby should be right up his alley. And if the bloodlines of Private World and Thunder Gulch add a dose of Derby-winning speed to Giant’s Causeway’s stouter genetics, it might not be too late for Giant’s Causeway to sire a classic winner in his final year of opportunity.