Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff’s Csaba returned to his winning ways Saturday, taking the $75,000 Memorial Handicap at Calder Casino and Race Course by two lengths and earning his sixth career stakes victory.
The 4-year-old colt was favored in the race and controlled the 1 1/16-mile by quietly sitting in second as pace-setter Decisive Moment lead the 10-horse field from the gate. While the rest of the field juggled their positions behind them, Decisive Moment and Csaba remained 1-2 heading into the top of the stretch. Csaba then inched forward, engaging Decisive Moment and pulling ahead of him down the lane despite Decisive Moment’s strong attempt to hold on before tiring. Csaba cleared ahead and crossed the wire in a final time of 1:46.20.
“He did his job,” jockey Manoel Cruz said. “He broke [from] the gate like ‘I want to run’ and I let him give five, six jumps for him to see how the race was going to set up, and we went from there. He got a little bit tired in the end, but it’s very normal for this much mount in a run.”
Trained by Phil Gleaves, Csaba came into the Memorial Handicap off of a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park. Prior to the Donn, Csaba enjoyed a four-race winning streak, all of which were stakes races. His winning streak started at Calder as he took the Tropical Park Derby and then earned his first graded stakes victory with a dead-heat win in the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper Handicap. From there he scored the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes and Grade 3 Hal’s Hope Stakes, both at Gulfstream.
Although jockey Luis Saez rode Csaba during his last five races, Cruz, Calder’s jockey of the month for May, was the rider Gleaves had in mind for Calder this season.
“I promised Manny a long time ago that he could ride him, and in fact I showed him several videotapes of his races awhile back,” Gleaves said. “Luis came back to ride him earlier than planned and he rode him, so Manny was always going to ride him down here.”
Csaba paid $3.20, $2.60, and $2.10 for the win. Megamove came up to grab second, bringing $7.40 and $5.60. Decisive Moment just missed second and brought $5.00 for third.
Rounding out the order of finish were Isutalkintome, Joshua’s Comprise, Flatter This, Argentine Tango, Rule Number Six, Ducduc, and Eldaafer.
With the win in the Memorial, Csaba is now a nine-time winner from 19 career starts and has $431,700 in lifetime earnings.