Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff’s 4-year-old Csaba turned in a career-best performance winning the $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes by 3 ¾ lengths at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 16, Plans call for him to start next in the $100,000 Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3) on Sunday, Jan. 13, according to trainer Phil Gleaves.
The son of Kitten’s Joy defeated a solid field in the Harlan’s Holiday with Delegation second and Cash Rules third going 1 1/16 miles around two turns and will turn back in distance to one mile around one turn for the Hal’s Hope.
“I like the turn back. Woody (Stephens) made a habit of doing that over the years,” referring to Gleaves’ Hall of Fame mentor for whom he was a top assistant until going out on his own in the mid-80s.
“If all goes well in the Hal’s Hope, the Donn Handicap would be next on the radar.” Gleaves purchased Csaba privately for Hollander and Shapoff as an un-raced 2-year-old in “April or May” of 2011.
Csaba has won his last three starts by wide margins, capturing the ‘off the turf’ Tropical Park Derby by 14 lengths at Calder on Oct. 13 and the Fred Hooper Handicap (G3) by 7 ¼ lengths there on Nov. 24 prior to the Harlan’s Holiday. His career record stands at 12-5-1-2 for earnings of $312,000, including a couple of dull tries on turf.
Before the Harlan’s Holiday Gleaves said that “with his pedigree, I’d have bet that he would be a turf horse, but the next time he’ll see grass will be when he’s turned out in a paddock.” Csaba ran three times on turf with an even third in the Palm Beach Stakes (G3) here in March being his best finish.
Gleaves does has a proven turf stakes performer currently on the comeback trail in 4-year-old gelding Miami Cat. A chestnut by Powerful Goer owned by Hollander, Shapoff and Gleaves, Miami Cat breezed an easy three furlongs in 37 1/5 on New Year’s Eve at Calder, his first recorded workout since a disappointing ninth-place finish in the Kent Stakes (G3) at Delaware Park.
“He needed some time off,” said Gleaves. “He came out of the Kent a little sore and just needed a good break. I would expect he will be ready return in mid- to late February.” Prior to the Kent, Miami Cat won a hard-fought neck decision in the Equalize Stakes on turf at Saratoga on Sept. 22 with entry-mate Csaba ninth, the last time the latter tried turf.