04/12/2012 4:08PM

Calder: Csaba can lift Gleaves barn in Calder Derby


MIAMI – Trainer Phil Gleaves is hoping a week that started on the lowest of low notes will end on a high one when he sends out Csaba as the likely favorite in Saturday’s $150,000 Calder Derby. A fixture on the local stakes schedule for nearly 40 years, the 1 1/8-mile Calder Derby has been reinstated this season after not being run in 2011.

On Monday, Gleaves lost the star of his stable for the past five years, the multiple graded stakes winner Mambo Meister, who broke down during a routine morning workout and was euthanized shortly thereafter. Those are big shoes to fill around the barn, although Gleaves may have a candidate in the lightly raced Csaba.

Csaba began his career on dirt not out of choice but necessity, as each of his first three scheduled starts was switched from the turf to the main track because of inclement weather. Casaba won two of those races before finally getting on the grass to finish fifth in Gulfstream Park’s Dania Beach to close out his 2-year-old campaign.

Csaba has made just two starts at 3, finishing a distant sixth behind Union Rags following an unlucky start in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth before returning to his preferred surface to be a good third behind Kentucky Derby candidates Howe Great and Dullahan in the Grade 3 Palm Beach on grass.

“Nothing can replace Mambo, but certainly we’d like to end the week on a happier note,” said Gleaves. “I like the way the race is shaping up for him, I thought he ran a very credible race behind two very good horses in the Palm Beach, he’s coming into the race in great shape, and I’m looking forward to running him Saturday.”

Empire Builder, yet another Kitten’s Joy offspring to have successfully taken to the grass, has followed a somewhat similar path as Csaba, launching his career on dirt before making a successful switch to the turf. Empire Builder finished a head behind Csaba in the pair’s first encounter in the Dania Beach before also running afoul of Howe Great but finishing a respectable third in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes, his only start thus far at 3.

Malibu Way and Raging Lion will get a quick class check coming into their stakes debuts with only a single start on their respective r é sum é s.

Malibu Way is trained by Christophe Clement, who won back-to-back Calder Derbies in 2008 and 2009 with Sporting Art and Sal the Barber. Malibu Way, a son of First Samurai, rallied from mid-pack to register a game head decision going a mile in his only previous start five weeks ago at Gulfstream Park.

Raging Lion cruised to an easy 5 1/2-length debut win launching his career last month at Tampa Bay Downs.

Musical Flair, already a two-time stakes winner but yet unproven beyond five furlongs, the speedy Late Night Action, Good Morning Diva, Two Months Rent, Big Screen, Sinatra, and Scorcher complete the very competitive field.