Monday, June 24, 2024

Classic Causeway is in deep waters in Prince of Wales’s

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Classic Causeway has been declared for the Grade 1, $1.2 million Prince of Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday at Royal Ascot. The lone American competes in a six-horse field in his initial trip overseas, but he finds himself in deep waters. Even a repeat of his successful Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) effort last year will not win against these horses.

When Classic Causeway won the Belmont Derby last year against a couple of European shippers, he took advantage of a loose lead and held on in the stretch against Nations Pride and Stone Age, who are both somewhere in the B class of stakes horses in Europe. Both Nations Pride and Stone Age would find themselves as long shots if they started in this race.

Before shipping to America for the Belmont Derby, Nations Pride could finish only eighth in the Cazoo Derby (G1) at Epsom. After the Belmont Derby, he did win American races such as the Saratoga Derby Invitational (G1) and Jockey Club Derby Invitational (G3) before a mild fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland.

As for Stone Age, he ended up running fifth in the Saratoga Derby before shipping back to Europe and turning in a pair of fifth-place finishes in the Irish Champion Stakes (G1) and Champion Stakes (G1). Stone Age returned to America to run second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

In the Prince of Wales’s, one of the horses Classic Causeway faces is Adayar, the dominant winner of the 2021 Cazoo Derby. As an older horse now, Adayar remains in top form after his close second by a half-length in the aforementioned Champion Stakes last October and his more recent easy comeback win in the Gordon Richards Stakes (G3).

The Champions Stakes is a key race to watch as it contains four of the Princes of Wales’s runners, with three of them in the mix up front for the win in mid-stretch.

Adayar lost by half a length to Bay Bridge, who saved ground for most of the race and had the two path on the final turn before the stretch.

Bay Bridge joins Adayar in the Prince of Wales’s. The 5-year-old remains in good recent form as well after running a game second by a half-length to Luxembourg in the Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1) at the Curragh. Bay Bridge might run a touch better on soft turf, but he still fires big on firmer ground.

Classic Causeway also takes on Luxembourg. Besides his hard-fought win over Bay Bridge in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, Luxembourg won the Irish Champion Stakes last year before running a troubled seventh in the prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) at Longchamp.  

In addition to those three top-class European runners, Classic Causeway meets the improving My Prospero, who almost caught Adayar for second in the Champion Stakes after tipping outside that foe in mid-stretch. To start his campaign this year, My Prospero ran a good fourth in the Lockinge Stakes (G1) won by the familiar Modern Games. 

Mostahdaf completes the field, and he looks more in line with Classic Causeway’s overall class after a distant fourth in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) at Meydan and a last-place finish in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last year.

Even if Classic Causeway secures an uncontested lead through a soft pace, it does not seem likely he could hold on against this level of competition. Relaxing on a comfortable lead is not guaranteed either, as both Luxembourg and My Prospero own enough speed to press him early on.

Luxembourg set the pace in the recent Tattersalls Gold Cup, and My Prospero set the pace when he won the Prix Eugene Adam (G2) last July.

Classic Causeway beat Nations Pride and Stone Age at Belmont, but Europeans such as Adayar, Bay Bridge and Luxembourg would crush those two lower-class Europeans in most races. As mentioned earlier, Stone Age ran fifth in the Champion Stakes. He never made a serious run to join Bay Bridge, Adayar and My Prospero in the otherwise exciting stretch battle.

Given that measuring stick, Classic Causeway would need to improve quite a bit to pull off the triple-digit odds upset. It would come as a surprise if he ended up beating any horse other than the hopeless long shot Mostahdaf.

The best value in the Prince of Wales’s is probably Bay Bridge. Even though Bay Bridge tends to win on softer turf, he had a pace excuse in his runner-up finish to Luxembourg in the Tattersalls Gold Cup since Luxembourg set the pace uncontested through a slow pace. Luxembourg held off Bay Bridge late, but he was supposed to win given the easy trip.

If Bay Bridge starts at 7-2 or higher, he is worth a win and place bet.

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