Ducduc, launching his bid from well behind on the final turn, caught the runaway leader Csaba at the wire to pull out a dead heat in the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap (gr. III) Nov. 24 at Calder Casino and Race Course (VIDEO).
The 3-10 favorite in the field of six, Csaba looked like an easy winner after pulling away from Fair Whit in the stretch to lead by three lengths at the furlong pole. But the 3-year-old Kitten's Joy colt came under a ride from Luis Saez in the final sixteenth and had to settle for a tie with the second choice, who was ridden by Orlando Bocachica.
The winners each collected a first graded stakes victory.
Three-year-old Csaba registered his sixth career win at Calder from nine starts and is now 2-for-2 against older rivals after an allowance win over the track in May. Trained by Phil Gleaves for Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff, Csaba was bred in Kentucky by Ken and Sarah Ramsey out of the War Chant mare High Chant.
"I tried to ride like last time when I came from just off the pace, but there wasn't any speed, and he broke great so I had to go," Saez said. "But when he's all out there by himself, he isn't himself; he waits for the other horse."
Ducduc is a 6-year-old by Langfuhr trained by Shivananda Parbhoo for Shivananda Racing. Bred in Kentucky by William B. Harrington and 12 Gates Racing, the dark bay/brown horse is out of Tyne, by Awesome Again .
"I knew I was making up a lot of ground on him, but when I came to the other horse, the other horse was still game," Bocachica said. "I knew it was close. I wish it was just me, but it still feels good."
It was 7 1/4 lengths back to Fair Whit and Jose Alvarez in third, followed by He's Spectacular, Two Is to Many, and Decaf Again. The final time for the 1 1/8-mile distance was 1:52.93 on a fast track.
Csaba took the lead from Two Is to Many and set the pace along the inside, carving comfortable fractions of :24.29, :48.80, and 1:13.01 before drawing clear of Fair Whit at the top of the lane. Ducduc was rated in fourth after being in tight at the start and was about nine lengths off the pacesetter on the turn. Ducduc bumped lightly with Fair Whit in upper stretch, but continued to rally on the outside to finish on even terms with the heavy favorite, who was all out in deep stretch for Saez.
The winners each collected $40,590. Csaba, a 14-length victor in the off-the-turf Tropical Park Derby in his most recent race Oct. 13 at Calder, has now won six of 15 starts with earnings of $252,525. Ducduc, a close second to Cash Rules in the Spend A Buck Handicap (gr. III) on a good Calder main track Oct. 13, won for the 10th time in 38 outings and has now banked $306,174.
Csaba ($2.10, $2.10, $2.10) and Ducduc ($2.60, $3.40, $2.40) combined for a $4 exacta payoff with Csaba on top and $10 with Ducduc in the win slot. Fair Whit paid $5.20 to show.