01/15/2013 1:22PM

Gulfstream Park: Donn could attract top four from Hal's Hope

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Courtney Heeney
Csaba (right) wins the Hal's Hope, with Pants On Fire (left) third and pacesetter Good Morning Diva, in between horses, fading to fifth.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Phil Gleaves said he would likely point Csaba to the Grade 1 Donn Handicap here Feb. 9 following his game victory in Sunday’s Hal’s Hope. When he gets to the Donn starting gate, he’s likely to see a lot of familiar faces.

In light of the close finish of the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope, with only a couple of necks and a head separating the top four finishers, it is possible all four could return in the Donn.

Trainer Mark Casse said going into the Hal’s Hope that he was using the race as a Donn prep for runner-up Pool Play, believing the one-mile distance was a little too short for his horse. As things turned out, it was just a few feet too short. Pool Play’s closing surge from near the rear of the field fell just a neck shy of earning him the victory.

Kelly Breen said he was extremely pleased with Pants On Fire’s third-place finish under Paco Lopez in the Hal’s Hope, considering it was his first start since an eventful journey as the odds-on favorite in the Delta Mile eight weeks earlier and only his second since late May. Despite the loss, Pants On Fire matched his career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 98, also earned this summer for his victory in Monmouth Park’s Skip Away.

“I thought he ran dynamite,” Breen said. “I felt going in he might come up a little bit short, but he ran well. He got hung out a little wide; they were running fast. I don’t think Paco had too much of a choice to make his move when he did, and he had every right to get a little bit tired. The Donn is certainly possible. We’ll take one step at a time; see how he comes out of the race.”

Another option for Pants On Fire would be a race at Fair Grounds, Breen said. Pants On Fire registered his most important victory at Fair Grounds, the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin also was delighted with Soldat’s fourth-place finish under Javier Castellano on Sunday. Soldat made a big run while four wide to join the leaders into the stretch but could not quite sustain the bid down the lane. Soldat had raced on turf in his two previous races.

“I was very pleased,” McLaughlin said. “It was an educated guess to try him back on the dirt, and he ran great. He just was awfully wide, but I don’t blame Javier for it, that’s just the way the race unfolded. For a moment there on the turn, the way he was moving, I thought he was going to win by five. We’ll probably look at the Donn Handicap and see how he’s doing.”

Awaiting the top four finishers from the Hal’s Hope in the Donn will be Flat Out, winner of the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2012. Flat Out finished fifth in last year’s Donn. He has not started since checking home a wide-running third behind Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Nicholas Heaven More than 1 year ago
El padrino will crush these in the donn. He prepped in a high level condition race where he made his move but came up short. Hes well rested and I just think the hals hope bunch is coming back too fast out of a hard ran mile race. El padrino is mediocre no dought but will be better than these at $7 r $8 fo pletcher.
Albert More than 1 year ago
If this wasn't a parimutual game, I'd say to you "I'll take that bet." Instead, I'll look to Bill Mott for a price.
hotboyholly More than 1 year ago
Gosh, how can Flat Out lose this race? i think he was my Derby Pick, cant remember.
Patrick De Vito More than 1 year ago
Flat Out was an unknown at 3...never made the Derby.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Hoping to see Cigar Street in the Donn.
Mark More than 1 year ago
With Mott already going with Flat Out it seems unlikely. I think Cigar Street is capable of a huge year if he can stay healthy.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Also hoping Out of Bounds comes back to the US after Dubai.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Dont think cs is under consideration. However i read that Johnny V will be on Take Charge Indy for the Donn. Interesting!
Mark Hoeft More than 1 year ago
That's because Calvin Borel has a fractured wrist and is out for a good period of time
Mark More than 1 year ago
Thanks. I am well aware of borel's status. Interesting because i view it as an upgrade. And i think the horse will be a square price.
Mark Hoeft More than 1 year ago
the horse reminds me of To Honor and Serve early in his career, not a bad horse, but perhaps a one paced horse. He's either not the fastest, or still learning. I don't think he'll do well in this spot with a quick pace
Mark More than 1 year ago
horse will be making just his 10 th career start . actually can throw out derby when he got injured so actually his 9th . Ran huge behind a huge effort from Shackleford in the Clark . One paced ? they went 24.3 48.6 1:12.49 in the Clark with Shack setting the soft pace all the way . TTI was closing ground on the wire . That effort and trip with a hot pace and he has ever chance to win the donn . Owns a win over the track and no Shacklefords pointing toward the Donn . Johnny V . With Flat Out Csaba and possibly Pool Play all favored over him .
Mark More than 1 year ago
BTW THAS beat MMM in the woodward prior to MMM taking 2nd in the bcc . woodward cigar mile double . Remsen Nashua Penn Derby and Westchester . I d say THAS was one hell of a " one paced" horse .
Mark More than 1 year ago
Bourbon Courage also ran well in the Clark .
Mark More than 1 year ago
should be a great race Mark . who are you thinking ?
Mark More than 1 year ago
out of the probables ?
Mark Hoeft More than 1 year ago
I agree with what you said about TCI and pace, but he won the Florida Derby with a rather soft pace. I love Borel as a fan. I think he is fun because he's so hit or miss. He excels in the lead putting them to sleep and closing from last. The Florida Derby he stole with a soft pace. Great ride. I like Ron the Greek here. I've always been a fan of his since his Lecomte score years ago. He needs some pace to make his big move and I think he can get it done. SA was very track biased during the BC. Everyone had to be close to the pace. Seeing him at CD in person last year and his big move in the Stephen Foster, you can see this horse has some late kick. I think MMM and others will offer a decent pace, and RTG will close at the end. I think he'll be a decent price too coming off the layoff.
BrandonLayer More than 1 year ago
I think CSABA is this years FORT LARNED.
Geral John Pinault More than 1 year ago
Flat Out needs a race. Pool Play got a 100 Beyer in the Hal's Hope at The Gulf, loves distance and he's rounding into form! Send it in...
akhiym james More than 1 year ago
I really don't understand why people keep underestimating that horse. Pool Play has always been a ok horse up in Canada but ever since he switched to dirt he has really excelled. His only bad dirt race was last years Classic and no closers was coming home on that track so to me that race can be forgiven. He has a lot of races under his belt so I believe the quick turn around wont hurt and that Hals Hope race put him right on track to be a big threat to win. Will relish the added ground and the pace should be there just like the last race so I'm putting him on top. I really don't think Flat Out is a early season horse he seems to peak more in the summer and fall. I think Pool Play will win with Take Charge Indy Csaba
Nathan More than 1 year ago
the only horse from the hal's hope who deserves to try the donne, is pool play. the rest, including csaba, are garbage. what a dismal group of older horses. where are all the top 3 y.o. from last year? ruined, each and every one.
Tim Roberts More than 1 year ago
There werent any good 3 year olds by the end of the year. It was pathetic. Just look at the ridiculous winners of the Travers and the PA Derby. The only good 3 year old after I'll Have Another was Paynter and he got seriously ill. He should be back running soon, and in today's terms that means by the Summer!
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
And you have just two 'trainers' to thank for that. What is a donne?