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Csaba nabs third straight stakes victory

Csaba added yet another romping stakes win to his resume (Courtney Heeney/Coady Photography)

Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff's Csaba captured his third stakes win in a row in Sunday's $100,000 Harlan's Holiday at Gulfstream Park but more importantly was able to capture his first win away from Calder.

"He ran a great race and sat off a decent pace," trainer Phil Gleaves said. "One thing I noticed is that he didn't change leads in the stretch, so I'm going to have to work at that. But he ran a good race.

"I was a little bit (nervous about shipping from Calder). He got a little nervous in the receiving barn, and that's always a concern. He was a bit nervous in the paddock, as well, and he got a little sweaty out in the post parade. But it didn't seem to bother him much."

The three-year-old colt broke sharply and saved ground near the rail as he stalked pacesetter I'm Steppin' It Up, who posted fractions of :23 2/5 and :46 3/5. Csaba made his move just before the three-quarter pole, where he broke through on the inside to take over the lead and post a split of 1:11.

The Kitten's Joy colt was in tight with a group of three others leading up to the final turn but shook loose to gain a two-length lead into the stretch and pulled away for a 3 3/4-length victory. The bay colt covered 1 1/16 miles over the fast main track in 1:43 2/5. With Luis Saez in the irons Csaba paid $11.20, $5 and $3.20 as the 9-2 third choice despite being labeled the 5-2 morning line favorite.

Delegation managed to take second while Cash Rules was another 4 3/4 lengths back in third. Ducduc, 8-5 favorite Scatman, I'm Steppin' It Up and Decaf Again rounded out the order of finish. Duke of Mischief was eased in the stretch while Citrus Kid was scratched from the race.

Csaba registered his first graded victory in the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper Handicap on November 24 after posting wins in the El Kaiser and Tropical Park Derby, the latter coming as 14-length landslide when the race was moved from turf to dirt. He posted his best finish away from Calder when he was a nose second in the Grade 2, off-the-turf National Racing Museum Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga, and also placed in the Grade 3 Palm Beach and Mambo Meister this season. Csaba has earned $312,525 from a 16-7-1-3 career line.

Gleaves talked briefly about where Csaba might be headed next in his career.

"I wouldn't mind turning him back and run him in the (Grade 3) Hal's Hope (at Gulfstream on January 13), but we'll see."

Csaba was bred in Kentucky by Ken & Sarah Ramsey and hails from the winning War Chant mare High Chant. Stakes winner and multiple Grade 3 runner-up Highfalutin is the bay's second maternal dam.

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