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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

FOY: Casual Trick Seeks Rebound; Csaba in Tough


Nick Zito entered Casual Trick in the Grade II Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth, saying the colt was out of sorts in his most recent performance.

Sent off as the favorite, Casual Trick finished last in a Jan. 29 allowance race on a wet track.

“He just wasn’t himself that day. The track was off and he didn’t care for it. He basically flipped his palate. A lot of times you get that from the stress,” Zito said. “You just have to regroup. He’s been training really well, and we’re happy about that.”

After stumbling at the start of the race won by El Padrino in a romp, the $425,000 yearling purchase assumed a stalking position before giving way on the turn into the stretch, where his breathing was apparently affected by the flipped palate. Casual Trick had previously finished a close second in the Gulfstream Park Derby.

Zito, who saddled Ice Box and Dialed In for back-to-back victories in the last two runnings of the Florida Derby, had other options for Casual Trick, but he chose to take on three of the toughest horses on the Triple Crown Trail.

“One thing about Florida racing – Gulfstream – is you find out where you’re really at,” he said. “You could go to a lot of places, but when you run here and run well, you know you got yourself a good horse. We’ll see what happens.”

With John Velazquez taking off Casual Trick to ride Discreet Dancer, Zito brings in Corey Nakatani from Santa Anita to ride Robert LaPenta’s colt.

“We’ve had a lot of success together over the years,” Zito said.

Csaba in Deep

Trainer Phil Gleaves said he entered Csaba knowing exactly what his colt will be facing.

“It’s a very, very tough race obviously. The current three favorites for the Kentucky Derby are all going to be in there,” Gleaves said. “So it will be an exceptionally tough race, but we’ll find out where we fit.”

Despite a solid third-place finish on the main track at Calder after a slow start in his off-the-turf debut, Csaba was entered twice more on turf at Calder, and both times the races were rained off the grass course -- and both times he won impressively in a closing fashion.

“Certainly, looking at his pedigree, top and bottom, we thought he’d love the turf, and I think he does,” Gleaves said. “We did try his first three starts to get him on turf and we were rained out. He ran very well each start on the dirt.”

Gleaves finally got his chance to run Csaba on turf in the Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream with more disappointing results. Csaba went right to the lead and set the pace into the stretch before fading to fifth.

“The race was deceptively good. There was a good bunch of horses in there, and I thought he ran very well for running on the lead on a turf course that didn’t suit frontrunners,” Gleaves said. “But we did want to try him on the dirt on a fast track.”

Csaba will be ridden by Paco Lopez for the first time in his graded-stakes debut.

“We thought that this would be a good start to test his quality,” Gleaves said. “I’m looking forward to a good race from him Sunday.”

--Edited Gulfstream Park release

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