Bruce Hollander & Cary Shapoff’s Csaba claims the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap for the second year in a row. With Luis Saez aboard again, Csaba came up with the win by 1 ¼ lengths.
“Luis and I discussed it in the paddock; we thought there would be some speed,” said trainer Philip Gleaves. “But he broke well and kept his position. He’s a grinder, he just grinds away.”
Csaba stalked the pace before running three wide around the far turn. Crossed Sabres Farm’s Valid also stalked until taking over on the far turn. Csaba rallied to gain a slim lead at the 1/8 pole over. Valid couldn’t stay with the rival late who responded and edged away late for the win. Csaba’s co-winner last year, Lisa’s Riding, Inc.’s Ducduc saved ground and never made a threat.
“I tried to go in front but there was too much speed in the race so I had to grab hold of my horse and get a good position and wait,” said jockey Luis Saez. “When we came to the ½ mile I had two horses in front of me so I had to find some room outside because the front horse quit. When I put him out he responded to me well and he won the race.”
“We had one big advantage, besides my trainer, besides everything else and the track, Luis Saez,” said owner Bruce Hollander. “When you put Luis on him, it’s gold. Luis gets right down there with him.”
Going into today’s race 8 for 11 at Calder after winning an allowance on November 16, Csaba is now 9 for 12 at Calder.
“He loves Calder. He’s been here since he was a baby,” said Gleaves. “We brought him here as a 2 year old. He’s an iron horse and he’s a monster here.”
“This is home for Csaba. He’s 9 for 12. He loves it here,” said Hollander. “I’ll run here any time I can. This is my baby.”
Csaba returned $4.20, $3.20, and $2.20 for the win. Valid paid $5.40 and $3.40 for second, and On the Loose Again returned $2.60 for third.
Completing the order of finish were Joshua’s Comprise, Twin, Sr. Quisqueyano, I’m Steppin’ It Up, Macho Bull, Notimetokill, and Ducduc.