11/26/2012 4:42PM

Calder: Csaba-Ducduc dead heat in Hooper from different perspectives

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Csaba, racing on the deeper inside part of the track, ends on even terms with Ducduc in the Fred W. Hooper.

MIAMI – The outcome was the same for both camps but the connections of Csaba and Ducduc saw the result from a different perspective in the wake of Saturday’s dead heat for win in the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper Handicap.

Trainer Phil Gleaves expressed a bit of disappointment in having to settle for a share of the winner’s purse with Csaba in the Hooper and for good reason. After all, his horse went postward the 3-10 favorite coming off a 14-length victory six weeks earlier in the Tropical Park Derby.

Gleaves’s counterpart Shivananda Parbhoo, however, said he was happy to settle for a share of the Hooper title since even a dead heat makes his 6-year-old Ducduc a graded-stakes winner.

Csaba had to fight hard from start to finish before ending on even terms with Ducduc in the 1 1/8-mile Hooper. Csaba shook off a couple of early challenges, including one from Ducduc’s uncoupled stablemate Fair Whit, while racing in what appeared to be the deeper part of the racetrack along the rail before shaking well clear near midstretch. He then had to dig in bravely once engaged by Ducduc to post his fourth win of the year and the first graded stakes tally of his career.

“I guess when you’re the odds-on favorite like we were you expect to win, and turning for home I thought he was going to be a multiple-length winner,” said Gleaves. “But he didn’t switch leads at all. He stayed on his left lead all the way down the stretch, which is new for him, and he just kind of got idling out there waiting on horses.”

Gleaves, whose star for the past several seasons, Mambo Meister, broke down in a training mishap earlier this year, said Csaba could make one more start at 3 in the Harlan’s Holiday at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 16.

“Obviously the waters will get a lot deeper over at Gulfstream, but if all goes well the Harlan’s Holiday will be next,” said Gleaves.

Ducduc rallied from a dozen lengths off the lead to catch Csaba at the wire in the Hooper despite bumping briefly with Fair Whit in early stretch.

“To be honest, coming down to the end of the race I was happy to get a dead heat,” said Parbhoo. “It means he’s a graded stakes winner and obviously better than having been beaten a nose and finishing second. I couldn’t tell if he lugged in or if my other horse came out, but the bumping might have cost him winning the race outright.”

Parbhoo said part of the reason for the bumping incident could be the fact Ducduc lost his left eye earlier this season and may not have seen Fair Whit when passing him at the top of the stretch.

“He got hurt in a race here when I was in Kentucky for the Derby with Trinniberg,” said Parbhoo. “As soon as I got back I took him to the Palm Beach Equine Clinic. He spent 24 days there but they couldn’t save the eye. He has an artificial eye and races with a cheater blinker on the right side and a closed cup over the left.”

Parbhoo said Ducduc could also return for a rematch with Csaba in the Harlan’s Holiday.