Csaba successfully defended his title in the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap (gr. III), notching consecutive wins when he put away Valid in the final sixteenth of the Dec. 7 test at Calder Casino & Race Course (VIDEO).
Sent off the 11-10 favorite in a 10-horse field and carrying high weight of 123 pounds, the 4-year-old son of Kitten's Joy completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:52.93 on a fast track under jockey Luis Saez. In 2012 he registered a dead heat with Ducduc, those two 7 1/4 lengths ahead of the rest on the line. This year, he finished 1 1/4 lengths ahead of his nearest competitor.
Csaba is trained by Phil Gleaves for Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff and has posted nine of his 11 career victories at Calder. He came off a Nov. 16 allowance score by 7 1/4 lengths at the Florida oval, where he took the Memorial Handicap in May. He also won the 2012 editions of the Tropical Park Derby and El Kaiser Stakes.
Saez put Csaba in good position fourth on the rail after an uneventful break from post 4. The bay runner rated in hand behind a pace set by I'm Steppin' It Up
, who headed out a length in front of Sr. Quisqueyano
to record a quarter in :23.35 and a half in :47.65.
As three-quarters went in 1:12.11, 9-2 shot Valid ranged up to take the lead. Csaba followed that one three wide around the turn and rallied to gain a slim advantage through a 1:38.80 mile, then edged away late under steady handling. Valid held by three-quarters of a length over On the Loose Again
, who was well ahead of 52-1 shot Joshua's Comprise
Csaba returned $4.20, $3.20, and $2.20 while Valid brought $5.40 and $3.40. On the Loose Again paid $2.60. Joshua's Comprise, Twin
, Sr. Quisqueyano, I'm Steppin' It Up, Macho Bull
, and Ducduc completed the order of finish.
Bred in Kentucky by Ken and Sarah Ramsey out of the War Chant
mare High Chant, Csaba improved his record to 11-2-4 from 25 starts, with earnings of $551,480.