01/13/2013 7:17PM

Gulfstream Park: Saez helps Csaba get job done in Hal's Hope

Leslie Martin
Csaba, under Luis Saez, holds off Pool Play by a neck to win the Grade 3 Hal's Hope.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.-  Csaba showed he belongs at the next level, as did his jockey Luis Saez, after the pair combined for a hard-fought neck victory over the fast-closing Pool Play in Sunday’s $150,000 Hal’s Hope at Gulfstream Park.

Csaba brought a three-race winning streak into the one-mile Hal’s Hope that included a victory in the Grade 3 Fred Hooper Handicap at Calder, but was clearly facing his toughest test since beginning that skein with a 14-length triumph in the Tropical Park Derby on Oct. 13. And it appeared Csaba, the 9-5 favorite in the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope, was in some trouble after seemingly struggling to keep up with the leaders when put to a drive by Saez on the final turn.

Associate set a lively pace, posting splits of  22.64 seconds and  44.75 for the opening quarter and half-mile while pressed by good Morning Diva and Pants On Fire. Csaba raced about four lengths behind the leaders to the stretch but did not appear to be making any real headway until being angled to the inside near the eighth pole by Saez.  Csaba then surged late from along the rail to wear down Pants On Fire and Soldat while also holding off a belated rally from Pool Play.

“My first impression was I thought he was kind of struggling a little bit down the backside.  I thought he’d lay closer, going easier but the fractions were pretty solid,” said Phil Gleaves, who trains Csaba for the partnership of Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff. “I have to give all the credit to Luis Saez. He’s a brilliant rider. He’s going to do great in New York. He’s one of the best riders in the country.”

Pool Play, who was supplemented into the race at a cost of $5,000, rallied on the extreme outside to finish second, a neck in front of Pants On Fire, who gained command in early stretch then succumbed grudgingly at the end. Soldat also looked dangerous after fanning four wide into the stretch but could not sustain the bid, finishing another head farther back at the wire.

Csaba completed a mile in 1:35.69 and paid $5.60.

“He just tries so hard and just brings his game every race,” said Gleaves. “He’s a nice horse and I’m just blessed to have him. We always thought highly of him. We wanted to go on the Derby trail last year. That’s why we ran him in the Fountain of Youth but that didn’t pan out. But he’s showing it now.”

Gleaves said the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 9 would be the likely spot for Csaba’s next start.


Mark More than 1 year ago
Ft Larned is this years Ft Larned.
BrandonLayer More than 1 year ago
Is Csaba this year's Fort Larned?
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
He's knocking off nicer horses every trip but some jokers will never see that...
Nathan More than 1 year ago
if csaba is the best in florida, racing is in big trouble.
Louie Dula More than 1 year ago
hey Nathan, that's a rude comment!!!! he ran really good!!!!
Louie Dula More than 1 year ago
hey Nathan, that's a really rude comment
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
what did Joel Rosario think he had Dr Fager under him. 44 and change to the half.
Gene Cirillo More than 1 year ago
Little Louie has ridden for us @ Calder and will make his mark in NY!
Mark More than 1 year ago
Btw not saying gleaves is a slouch by any means but the guy hasnt saddled any other winners at the meet. The jock can ride.
Mark Deckert More than 1 year ago
Mark More than 1 year ago
Louie Dula More than 1 year ago
probably because Phil doesn't have any other really good horses right now seeing how his beloved Mambo Meister died last year. but there are some other good ones in his stable... he'll have other winners before the meet is over. I was there and saw the race. very exciting and very fast... Csaba beat some very good and talented horses..... he deserved that win... and Pool Play looked really great too.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Agree 100% . My feeling is though that this is csaba 's ceiling. Grade 3 level. I dont think he's a whitney suburban jcgc bc classic type. Time will tell.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Yes a grade 3 win is a grade 3 win A regular season win is a regular season win and A grade 1 win is a grade 1 win A superbowl win is a superbowl win See the difference? Nice grade 3 score today into a very hot pace with an inside ground saving trip going a one turn mile in which the 10 year old pool play was a fast closing second. Anymore ground and Csaba was beat. He ll be up against a stronger field in the donn going 2 turns coming off a race in which he had to run his eyes out to get up.
unmarx1 More than 1 year ago
Pool Play is 8yo , not 10 . sloppy.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Big difference. Lol. 8/10 . You get my point. Or else you would not have made such a childish response.
Gunner More than 1 year ago
A win is a win, the Pats will tell you that! Exciting race regardless.
charles b More than 1 year ago
Glad Gleaves mentioned the jock Luis Saez. Have watched him at Calder the past couple years and has become a very accomplished rider. Nice to see him getting the opportunity to show case his abilities. Watch him, he has a bright future.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Have a feeling he s gonna be like matt shaub and the texans when he gets the class test.
ddwage62 More than 1 year ago
the 1 turn mile can be much more grueling than being able to relax off the pace in a two turn route. Csaba showed alot of grit and class next year. one of the 10 best dirt horses in the country right now.
ddwage62 More than 1 year ago
*yesterday, not next year