Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff's Csaba returns to graded stakes company for the first time since this summer in a title defense of the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap (gr. III) Dec. 7 at Calder Casino & Race Course.
The 123-pound highweight in a field of 10 3-year-olds and up, 4-year-old Csaba appears primed for a top effort after demolishing a Nov. 16 allowance field by 7 1/4 lengths at the Florida oval last time out. The Kitten's Joy colt cruised wire-to-wire in hand in the 1 1/16-mile event, coming off a runner-up finish 2 1/4 lengths behind the gate-to-wire route of Sr. Quisqueyano in the Oct. 5 Quality Road Stakes going the same distance at Gulfstream Park.
The Quality Road was Csaba's first start for trainer Phil Gleaves since two lackluster efforts at Saratoga Race Course
, where he ran last of five in the Aug. 22 Alydar Stakes and seventh in the Aug. 3 Whitney Invitational Handicap (gr. I). The frontrunning bay has always been most comfortable at Calder, where he broke his maiden and has recorded eight of his 10 career victories—including the 2012 editions of the Fred W. Hooper, Tropical Park Derby, and El Kaiser Stakes, and the 2013 Memorial Handicap in May.
Csaba has had just one work between races, an easy four furlongs in :51.65 on Nov. 26 at Gulfstream Park
. Luis Saez gets the mount from Post 4.
DDRD Racing's Sr. Quisqueyano came back from that Quality Road victory to finish third in the Nov. 9 Millions Classic Preview Stakes at Gulfstream won by Mordi's Miracle
. The 3-year-old Exclusive Quality
colt pressed the pace but faded there.
Winner of the 2013 Calder Derby, Sr. Quisqueyano was first or second in his first six career starts for trainer Luis Olivares, all at Calder, before successfully transferring that form to a second in the Gulfstream Park Derby behind Itsmyluckyday
. He won the Eight Miles East Stakes at Gulfstream in August, his only other victory of the season aside from the recent Quality Road score. Carlos Olivero rides from the 7 hole. Sr. Quisqueyano carries 118 pounds.
When Csaba won the Fred Hooper last year he did so in a dead heat with Lisa's Racing's Ducduc
, those two putting on quite a show 7 1/4 lengths ahead of the others. But the 7-year-old Langfuhr
runner hasn't won since June, and must improve off a seventh last time out for trainer Bisnath Parboo in that Nov. 16 allowance won by Csaba. Ducduc carries 117 pounds and will be ridden from the outside by jockey Juan Delgado. Parboo also sends out allowance winner Notimetokill
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight Trainer
1. Twin (FL), O. Bocachica, 113, P Maestre
2. On the Loose Again (KY), A. Jaen, 114, J Navarro
3. Macho Bull (KY), M.A. Kappushey, 113, E J Coletti, Sr.
4. Csaba (KY), L. Saez, 123, P A Gleaves
5. Valid (VA), M. Rispoli, 113, M J Vitali
6. Notimetokill (FL), E. Martinez, 115, B Parboo
7. Sr. Quisqueyano (FL), C. Olivero, 118, L. Olivares
8. Joshua's Comprise (FL), L. Panici, 111, B R Rose
9. I'm Steppin' It Up (FL), J.C. Caraballo, 115, A Pecoraro
10. Ducduc (KY), J.N. Delgado, 117, B Parboo