The Hall of Fame trainer has good reason to expect that the 3-year-old son of Bernardini will rebound from his troubled journey that began with a stumble at the start and ended with a flipped palate.
After stumbling at the start of the stakes-quality allowance won by El Padrino, 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 on Jan. 1 to earn his favorite’s role on Jan. 29.
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’s return to action, but he chose to take on Trainer Todd Pletcher’s undefeated duo of Algorithms and Discreet Dancer, as well as Champagne (G1) winner Union Rags, in the Fountain of Youth.
“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 riding Discreet Dancer, Zito has opted to bring 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.
Meanwhile, Dialed In has been training sharply while producing a string of bullet workouts at Palm Meadows Training Center in preparation for his return from a long layoff. The 2011 Florida Derby victor hasn’t raced since finishing fourth in the Preakness Stakes last May.
“He’s getting ready to run,” Zito said. “We’ll find a spot and go from there. I’ll look for an overnight race for him at Gulfstream.”
Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth a Tough Fit for Csaba
Trainer Phil Gleaves entered Csaba in Sunday’s $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park knowing exactly what his colt will be facing in the 1 1/16-mile stakes.
. “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.”
Csaba will be taking on Champagne (G1) winner Union Rags, Holy Bull (G3) victor Algorithms and undefeated Discreet Dancer in the Fountain of Youth, the major prep for the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) on March 31.
When Gleaves entered Csaba in the Fountain of Youth, it was the first time that he entered the colt in a race originally scheduled to be run on turf. When a trainer has a colt sired by Kitten’s Joy, out of a War Chant mare, why would he bother to try him on dirt before racing him where he belongs – on turf?
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.
“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. After closing from off the pace with solid results on dirt, Csaba went right to the lead from inside post in the Dania Beach, in which he 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.”