HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Making the 32nd start of his most successful career, Csaba ran like his old self while posting a 1 ¾-length victory in Saturday’s $75,000 Skip Trial Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Equipped with blinkers for his second straight stakes victory, the 5-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy collected his ninth stakes victory while asserting his class over seven rivals in the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds and up.
“I put blinkers on him for his last two starts. That’s given him a new lease on life. He’s gotten a lot sharper,” trainer Phil Gleaves said. “He was acting sharper saddling; he was sharper in the paddock. It was something to change him up a little bit.”
Csaba broke alertly under jockey Manoel Cruz but settled a few lengths off the pace as Palatine Hill, pressed by Sr. Quisqueyano, set a solid early pace around the first turn and into the backstretch, posting fractions of :23.89 and :46.83. After relaxing nicely on the outside, Csaba advanced to challenge Palatine Hill around the turn and into the stretch before drawing off to a comfortable victory. Grand Tito made a sweeping challenge under Santiago Gonzalez on the turn into the homestretch but settled for second. Palatine Hill and Kings Over, both trained by Peter Walder, finished in a dead-heat for third, a half-length farther back.
Csaba, though, never really had an anxious moment while turning in a thoroughly professional effort.
“We had nice position down the backstretch and when I asked him at the 3/8ths-pole he responded well,” said Cruz, who rode three winners on Saturday’s card. “I've ridden him quite a bit and he's such a good horse.”
Csaba ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.12 while earning $45,105 for owners Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff, boosting his career bankroll over $660,000.
“I was a little bit concerned he was too far back going down the backside, but I took a look at the teletimer, and they were going too fast – 46-and-4 – so it didn’t concern me that much,” Gleaves said. “This horse is a grinder. He just grinds away, and I just love him. He just does what it takes to win.”
Csaba likely earned a trip to Saratoga for a start in the $100,000 Alydar Stakes on Aug. 17.