08/28/2012 1:21PM

Saratoga: Csaba gets his spot in Equalize

Coady Photography
Csaba’s two previous turf starts have come in stakes, one a third-place finish in a Grade 3.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.– A little over a week ago, trainer Phil Gleaves was toying with the idea of running Csaba in the Travers. Instead, Gleaves has found a much more suitable spot for his top 3-year-old, Thursday’s $100,000 Equalize at one mile over Saratoga’s inner turf course.

While Csaba would had started as a 30-1 outsider in the Travers, he’s likely to find himself the second choice in the wagering for the Equalize behind only Finale, the favorite in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Finale, a two time stakes winner, will be making his 3-year-old debut on Thursday.

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Although Csaba has had the bulk of his success on dirt, Gleaves has been anxious to get this versatile son of Kitten’s Joy back on the grass. He tried once already here this summer in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame, a race that was washed off the turf and moved to a sloppy main track. Csaba went off the 6-5 favorite following the surface change only to drop a frustrating nose decision to Quick Wit.

“We did think about the Travers, and had it been a shorter field we might have thought about it a little harder,” said Gleaves. “But he figures to be the second betting choice in this race, so I know we’re in the right spot. And I always wanted to go back to the grass with him at some point, so these types of turf stakes take precedent for us right now over anything else.”

Csaba has made two starts on grass, both in stakes. His best effort was a third-place finish behind Howe Great in Gulfstream Park’s Grade 3 Palm Beach earlier this winter.

“He’s by Kitten’s Joy,” said Gleaves. “His first two grass races weren’t bad, and he’s a much better and more mature horse now than he was back then. We’re seeing this race as an opportunity to tell us which direction to go with him during the fall.”

Csaba is one of two 3-year-olds Gleaves entered in the Equalize along with Miami Cat, who finished a troubled fourth in an optional claiming/starter allowance race in his turf debut here on Aug. 19.

“We were really looking for some type of allowance race for Miami Cat, but there was nothing for him here or even in the first book at Belmont, so I figured we might as well run him too,” said Gleaves.

Finale has not started since finishing second behind Summer Front in Gulfstream Park’s Dania Beach to close out his 2-year-old campaign. Finale won a pair of stakes last September, including the Grade 3 Summer at Woodbine, before finishing seventh after an unlucky trip in the BC Juvenile Turf.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said Finale suffered a hip injury following the Dania Beach and was given time off in Ocala, Fla., to recuperate.

“It looks like a competitive spot, and he’s training like he’s ready to run well,” said Pletcher.

Finale posted back-to-back 59-second-and-change five-furlong works on the Oklahoma turf course over the last two weeks.

Other key contenders in the Equalize field include recent stakes winner Artest, the graded-stakes-placed Film Shot, and Yari who has won 3 of his last 4 starts, all on grass.

– additional reporting by David Grening