Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff’s 3-year-old Csaba (pronounced Shaba) is by turf champion Kitten’s Joy, so the expectation by his connections was he'd be in grass races. But they've decided he deserves a chance in the Grade II Fountain of Youth on Feb. 26.
For one, circumstances led to Csaba making his first three starts on the main track at Calder last year, followed by a fifth-place finish by the Dania Beach on the grass at Gulfstream Park.
“He is by Kitten’s Joy, and we tried to go right to turf for his first start,” said trainer Phil Gleaves. “That race was forced off turf, as were the next two that he won impressively. He ran well enough back on the turf in the Dania Beach, but we’ve decided his wins on the main track were good enough to give him a chance in the Fountain of Youth, fully recognizing what a tough spot it is.
“He breezed a half-mile (at Calder) in :50 4/5 this morning. He’s ready to go. We still haven’t decided on a rider just year.”
Csaba will be a longshot in a field expected to be led by Union Rags, Algorithms and Discreet Dancer.
Gleaves is best known at the moment for Mambo Meister, a multiple graded stakes-winner on turf and dirt with earnings of more than $700,000. Mambo Meister is nominated for the $150,000 Grade II Mac Diarmida Stakes to be run at 1 3/8 miles on turf on Fountain of Youth Day.
"We’ve talked about trying him in a longer race for some time, and this may be the time,” said Gleaves of Mambo Meister. He finished tenth last out at Gulfstream on Jan. 14 in the Grade III Fort Lauderdale Stakes behind Silver Medallion, although beaten only 3 3/4 lengths for it all. “We haven’t made a final decision, but we’re seriously thinking about it.”
--Edited Gulfstream Park release