MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (August 9, 2012) – Trainer Easton DeSouza remained in good spirits as he walked the Calder Casino & Race Course grandstand Thursday, still basking in the glow of the Florida Stallion Stakes Desert Vixen Division victory provided by his filly Candy Coded Kisses 12 days ago.

“Did you see the way she ran,” the affable 69-year-old conditioner asked enthusiastically. “And wait until you see her at seven-eighths (in the Susan’s Girl Division on August 25). I’m telling you, she won’t lose that race.”

DeSouza’s confidence didn’t develop solely from Candy Coded Kisses stakes win. The trainer has been high on the daughter of Omega Code since her career debut, a $25,000 maiden claimer at 5 ½ furlongs where she ducked in and was steadied at the start, spotting the field double-digit lengths before closing strong to finish third.

“I knew right then that she was a good filly,” DeSouza said. “For a horse to run like that in her career debut, it showed to me that she had class. It showed me just how good she was going to be.”

Off that performance, DeSouza pointed the filly towards a July 6 maiden appearance against male rivals, a race that the filly won by a neck, and a race that ensured both horse and trainer would be present for the first round of the Stallion Stakes on July 28.

“My wife made a deal with me,” DeSouza explained. “The day of the Stallion Stakes, we were supposed to be at my niece’s wedding in Santo Domingo. I told my wife ‘we can’t go because this filly is doing so well, we’ll win the Stallion Stakes.’ But the tickets were bought; she told me we were going. So the deal was, I would enter her against the boys, and if she won, we’d stay for the race. You know how that turned out.”

DeSouza said he will send Candy Coded Kisses to the Calder main track Saturday morning for her first workout since the Desert Vixen win.

“We’ll go either five-eighths and gallop-out six, or we’ll go ahead and work her six,” DeSouza said. “I haven’t decided for sure yet. But we’ll leave them guessing on that one.”


STAY RED RETURNS FOR FRIDAY FEATURE

The feature race at Calder Friday is a nine-furlong second-level grass allowance that has drawn a field of seven turf runners including the lightly raced 6-year-old Stay Red, a stakes winner that has made just 13 starts during what has been a rather tumultuous career.

“It’s been frustrating,” trainer Juan Rizo said of the many stopping points throughout Stay Red’s running lines. “He has the talent to have been a champion, but there have just been so many problems; almost too many to count.”

Stay Red was likely at his best three starts ago when winning a $75,000 Florida-bred stakes race on the Gulfstream Park turf course. Unfortunately that race took place in April 2011, and the son of Red Bullet has managed just two trips to the races since.

“He came back after the stake at Gulfstream and needed to have a chip removed,” Rizo said. “So we operated on him, and then we had to take our time getting him back.”

Rizo readied Stay Red for a mid-November return in the $125,000 Bonnie Heath Turf Cup where the horse crossed the wire seventh, beaten just four lengths for everything in what was initially seen as an encouraging performance.

“I thought he ran good that day, but afterwards, we had to put him back in surgery, this time on his throat,” Rizo explained, citing Stay Red’s penchant for displacing his soft palate when running. “So we had to stop again, and all we could do was get him ready for the second half of this year.”

Stay Red returned to the track in a July 20 allowance where he again finished seventh, this time beaten two lengths when competing in a race contested under the same conditions as Friday’s test.

“It’s good to finally have him in back-to-back races like this,” Rizo said. “It’s been a while. I still don’t think he’s as fit as he will be later in the year. And I think the hot weather works against us too. He runs better when it isn’t this hot out. But he should do well tomorrow, and we hope to keep him together for a good fall and winter.”


CSABA SET TO GO IN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF RACING HALL OF FAME STAKES

El Kaiser Stakes winner Csaba is one of eight sophomore turf runners entered in the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga on Friday.

Trained by Phil Gleaves, the son of Kitten’s Joy is a four-time winner on the main track at Calder, adding a maiden victory and two allowance scores to his recent 8 ¼-length El Kaiser triumph.

Although winless in his two turf tries, Csaba was beaten just over two lengths by top 3-year-old turf horse Summer Front when fifth in the $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes in December, and was third behind the highly-regarded pair of Howe Great and Dullahan in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes in March.

Csaba will be ridden by Julien Leparoux and is 4-1 in the morning line for the race.