After a one-year absence from the Calder Casino & Race Course stakes schedule, the $150,000 Calder Derby will make a strong return on Saturday as a competitive field of 12 3-year-olds will take to the Calder turf course for the 40th running, headed by Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff’s Csaba, recent third-place finisher in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Trained by Phil Gleaves, Csaba was a two-time winner on the Calder main track last year before closing out his 2-year-old season with a fifth-place finish in the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes on the Gulfstream turf where he was beaten just over two lengths for everything.
The son of Kitten’s Joy then made a brief appearance on the Triple Crown trail when sixth in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth before returning to the turf for the Palm Beach where he crossed the wire third behind Kentucky Derby hopefuls Howe Great and Dullahan.
Assigned post eight for the 1 1/16-mile turf test, Csaba will reunite with jockey Jose Angel Garcia for the Calder Derby. Garcia was aboard for each of Csaba’s victories last year.
Luis Duco Stables Inc.’s Empire Builder will look to keep his unbeaten record on the Calder turf course intact on Saturday when starting from post six in the Calder Derby under jockey Luis Jurado.
Trained by Luis Duco, Empire Builder broke his maiden by 1 ½ lengths over the Calder grass last September before returning to the local lawn one month later to prevail in an entry-level allowance by 2 ¼ lengths. The son of Kitten’s Joy has since returned to contest a pair of $100,000 stakes at Gulfstream, finishing a close sixth in the Dania Beach before running third in the Kitten’s Joy.
Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti’s Musical Flair, winner of last year’s $75,000 Fasig-Tipton Turf Dash at Calder and conqueror of the $60,000 Needles Stakes at Gulfstream in February, will seek the first two-turn victory of his career when starting from post 10 in the Calder Derby.
Conditioned by Sal Santoro, Musical Flair has been asked to negotiate a pair of bends just once in his career, finishing 11th in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October. The son of Songandaprayer exits a 10th-place finish in the Grade 3 Swale Stakes on the main track at Gulfstream. Jockey Jesus Rios, who was aboard Musical Flair for last year’s Fasig-Tipton Turf Dash victory, is scheduled to ride.
Other Calder Derby entrants of note include Dogwood Stable’s Big Screen, a maiden winner at Gulfstream in December when defeating eventual Grade 3 Sam F. Davis winner Battle Hardened; Lael Stables’ Malibu Way, who broke his maiden on the Gulfstream turf at first asking for two-time Calder Derby winning trainer Christophe Clement; and Peter E. Blum’s Sinatra, a maiden winner on the Gulfstream turf in his last start.
Completing the field for the Calder Derby are Dennis J. Manning’s Raging Lion, George J. Kerr’s Good Morning Diva, AJ Suited Racing Stable’s Two Months Rent, Rontos Racing Stable Corp.’s uncoupled entry of Late Night Action and Scorcher, and A and V Investments Inc.’s El Romano.
The $150,000 Calder Derby will go as the 10th race on a 12-race Saturday program with an approximate post time of 5:10 p.m. First race post-time is 12:55 p.m.
The Saturday program from Calder will also feature the first leg of the newly unveiled Calder Starter Series, a four-race series for horses that have started for $20,000 or less in 2011-12, with each race offering a rich $50,000 purse. A field of 12, with two also-eligible horses, has made the overnight for Saturday’s seven-furlong main track event, which goes as the 11th on the card.
The Calder Starter Series continues at one mile on the turf on Saturday, April 28.