05/23/2013 3:03PM

Calder: Csaba should have easier time in Memorial


MIAMI – Csaba may have stepped a bit out of his class when finishing fifth earlier this winter in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap. But the multiple graded stakes winner will be back in the proper element and is strictly the one to beat when he returns from a well-deserved vacation Saturday at Calder in the $75,000 Memorial Handicap.

Csaba finished nine lengths behind the front-running Graydar in the Donn, the loss snapping a four-race win streak that began here last October with a 14-length victory in the Tropical Park Derby. Csaba, a son of Kitten’s Joy owned by Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff, went on to reel off three more victories which included a dead-heat for win in the Grade 3 Fred Hooper Handicap and a hard-fought neck decision over Pool Play in Gulfstream Park’s Grade 3 Hal’s Hope to open his 2013 campaign.

Although Csaba finished well back in the Donn, trainer Phil Gleaves makes a good case that his performance was probably a lot better than it looks on paper. Especially when taking into consideration that three of the four horses who finished in front of Csaba in the Donn have since gone on to win graded stakes.

“The Donn turned out to be a key race,” said Gleaves. “The winner, Graydar, came back to win the New Orleans Handicap; the third-place finisher, Take Charge Indy, won the Alysheba; and Flat Out, who finished fourth, won the Westchester.”

Gleaves decided to give Csaba a break after the Donn, and although he missed the opportunity to blow him out here Tuesday, as scheduled, due to a wet track, he is confident his star will be ready for a big effort on Saturday.

“Even though he didn’t get to blow out and his previous work was just a very slow half-mile” – 52.60 on May 15 – “he’s done enough since his last start and seems to be pretty fit,” said Gleaves. “We gave him some time off to have him ready for a good summer and fall campaign and this race seemed like a pretty good place to start.”

Csaba will carry high weight of 121 pounds while breaking from the rail under jockey Manny Cruz in the 1 1/16-mile Memorial. He’ll concede two pounds to the oldest horse in the field, the 8-year-old Eldaafer, and as many as 11 to the youngest, the 3-year-old Joshua’s Comprise.

Eldaafer earned more than $137,000 in 2012 despite winning just once, an overnight stakes at Delaware Park, in eight tries on the year. A son of A.P. Indy who is trained by Diane Alvarado, Eldaafer was also second in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap and third in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup.

Rule Number Six brings the best form into the race, having won his last three starts, including the Sumter overnight stakes here earlier this month with a wide-running, last-to-first 1 1/4-length decision over Megamove.

Ducduc dead-heated with Csaba for first in the Fred Hooper but has not been close in three subsequent starts, including an eighth-place finish in the Donn.

Megamove figures to assure an honest pace in the Memorial along with Decisive Moment, who switches back to the dirt off a series of turf tries to kick off the season at Gulfstream.

Completing the lineup are recent allowance winner Isutalkintome; Argentine Tango, a late-running fourth in the Sumter; and Flatter This.