11/22/2012 11:24AM

Calder: Csaba's best more than good enough in Fred W. Hooper

Coady Photography
Csaba wins the Tropical Park Derby by 14 lengths. He will try to double up Saturday in the Fred W. Hooper.

Csaba’s form leaps off the page Saturday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap at Calder Race Course. He won the Tropical Park Derby by 14 lengths in his last start, and the Beyer Speed Figure of 106 that he earned is the best career number in the field.

The Hooper is a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up, and it will share a card with the Grade 2, $150,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on turf. The Hooper goes with a field of six, including Ducduc who is cross-entered in the McKnight.

Csaba has been a late-developing 3-year-old for the partnership of Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff and trainer Phil Gleaves. He won the first stakes race of his career in July, when he rolled home by eight lengths in the $55,000 El Kaiser at Calder and earned a Beyer of 99.

“He’d run a super race, so that propelled us to Saratoga,” Gleaves said. “We ran him in the off-the-turf Hall of Fame, and he was beaten a nose. That was a very good race for him, a graded race at Saratoga. We thought then the next logical place to run was the Pennsylvania Derby, and things just didn’t go right for us in the running of that. For whatever reason, he didn’t run well. We brought him home, and he was jumping and kicking and saying, ‘Let me run again.’ ”

Csaba turned up in the Tropical Park Derby, a 1 1/8-mile race at Calder on Oct. 13 that came off the turf. He stalked the pace and drew out, running to the potential he had hinted at over the summer at Saratoga.

“He just ran a breakout race,” Gleaves said. “He looked like the real deal.

“He’s always been a nice horse, but I did see a definite change in him up at Saratoga, and as we know, horses thrive up there. But I noticed physically he was getting stronger.”

Csaba on Saturday will be taking on older horses for the first time since May, when he won an allowance over such rivals at Calder. The horse, who is named for a painter, will break from post 3, under jockey Luis Saez.

“He’s best on the lead, or laying very close to it,” Gleaves said of Csaba, who could track Two Is to Many.

Ducduc comes off a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Spend a Buck Handicap on the same card as the Tropical Park Derby. The winner of that race, Cash Rules, returned in his next start to capture the $150,000 Carl G. Rose Classic Handicap at Calder.