Csaba, last year’s G3 Fred W. Hooper winner, was sent to post in this year’s renewal
as the even money favorite and did little to disappoint. While I’m Steppin’ It
Up went to the front and set early fractions of 23:35 and 47:65, Csaba patiently
bided his time in a good stalking position back in fourth. At the eighth pole,
the bettors’ favorite gained a slim lead but then appeared to hang. All was not
lost, however, as the bay colt dug deep and began to pull away late. The margin
of victory was a comfortable 1 ¼ lengths, but Csaba had to work for today’s
By Kitten’s Joy, Csaba returned $4.20/$3.20/$2.20.
Valid gained second place after racing in third for much of the race and
returned $5.40/$3.40. On the Loose Again ran a huge race, closing from
way out of it to finish third. He paid $2.60 for a $2 show bet. Lovable loser
Joshua’s Comprise closed from dead last to finish fourth and was followed by
Twin, Sr. Quisqueyano, pace-setting I’m Steppin’ It Up, Macho Bull,
Notimetokill, and Ducduc.
Today’s victory improved Csaba’s record to 11 wins in 25
starts. The bay son of top sire Kitten’s Joy has been particularly effective at
Calder Race Course during his
career, compiling a record of 12: 9-0-2 at the South Florida track. The winner’s
share of the Fred. W. Hooper purse pushed his earnings over the half million
mark to $551, 480.
One race prior to the Fred. W. Hooper, Speaking of Which returned to top form with a victory in the G3 Tropical Turf Handicap. The Irish
bred son of Invincible Spirit utilized a mid-pack stalking trip, tucking into 5th
behind pacesetter Heiko, who set slow fractions of 24:44 and 50:13. In the far
turn, Speaking of Which split horses and then wheeled to the outside, gunning
down the leaders to win by a length. Favored Tetradrachm ($4.00/$2.60) moved up
from third to nab second, and Bad Debt ($2.40) was out-finished and lost second.
Heiko faded to fourth, and the order of finish was completed by Grand Tito,
Paris Vegas, Reflecting, Exothermic, and Live in Joy. The Moyglare Farm Stud
winner recorded just his 4th career victory in 11 starts and pushed
his total earnings to $187,918.
capped the trio of Calder stakes with a 42-1 upset in the G3 My Charmer Handicap. The bay daughter of Lemon Drop Kid broke
from the far inside and saved all the ground for the entirety of the race.
Despite racing in tight quarters at times, the Graham Motion trainee settled nicely
for jockey Matthew Rispoli behind front-running Rose to Gold and Angelica Zapata. As the field kicked for home,
Rose to Gold began to weaken and drifted off the hedge, opening up a hole for
the patient winner. Valiant Girl ($87.60/$31.60/$13.40) did not even hesitate,
she roared through the opening to prevail by a half length over runner-up
Angelica Zapata ($4.80/$3.40). Strathnaver ($4.20) finished third, followed by
Parranda, Rose to Gold, Somali Lemonade, Naples Bay, Sure Route, Awesome
Flower, Millennia, and Team. Running for Antoinette Oppenheimer, Valiant Girl
improved to 4 wins from 14 starts and pushed her career earnings to $130,843.
Fifth place finisher Rose to Gold was trying turf for the first time in her career. This was also her first race back since undergoing surgery to remove multiple bone chips following a rough rendition of this year's G1 Kentucky Oaks. Despite the layoff, surgery, and surface switch, the talented filly was only beaten for it all by 2 lengths and arguably needed the race. Look for her to improve next out.