Gulfstream Park Picks: Csaba, Delegation Face Off Again in Hal’s Hope

A field of ten lines up in Sunday's Grade 3 Hal's Hope at Gulfstream Park

The Phillip Gleaves trained Csaba is the 5-2 morning line favorite for Sunday’s Grade 3 $100,000 Hal’s Hope and will face off against a familiar foe in Delegation, trained by Mark Casse.

The duo squared off on Dec. 16 in the $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday, with Csaba getting the job done by 3 ¾ lengths, the colt’s third straight victory.

The colt capped off 2012 by earning a career top Beyer Speed Figure of 109, his third consecutive triple digit number.

The gelding started the streak by winning the off the turf Tropical Park Derby by 14 lengths.

The gelding was then part of a deadheat for the win in the Grade 3 Fred Hooper Handicap at Calder, setting the early fractions and holding on late, sharing top billing with Ducduc.

Despite the two wins he was sent off as the third choice at 9-2 in the Harlan’s Holiday, safely holding off Delegation in the stretch for the win.

Delegation came into the Harlan’s Holiday off a third place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt where the gelding may have been compromised by catching a speed favoring racing strip. The outing was his first career start on conventional dirt.

He is perfect on polytrack in three trips including an impressive victory in the Grade 3 Durnham Cup where he took the field gate to wire and earned a career top Beyer Speed Figure of 104.

In the Harlan’s Holiday he tracked the early pace and just did not have enough punch left late to catch the winner.

The pair of rivals have eight other foes to worry about on Sunday afternoon including the Kiaran McLaughlin trained Soldat, winner of the 2011 Grade 2 Fountain of Youth over the Gulfstream Park main track.

The colt came up short on turf last out in the If Winter Comes and returns to dirt with Javier Castellano getting the return call. The five-year-old is 6-1 on the morning line.

Others that figure to be in the hunt include the Rick Dutrow trained Associate, who was third in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler at Belmont Park in his last outing, and the Kelly Breen trained Pants On Fire, who had a solid three-year-old campaign in 2011 winning the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby and the Grade 3 Pegasus.

The feature on Sunday at Aqueduct is the state bred $75,000 Swirlaway, which drew a compact field of five fillies and mares that will go one mile on the inner track.

The Rick Violette trained Opus A, who was fourth in the Jameela in her last start returns to the state bred ranks and is the 7-5 morning line favorite.

My Best Plays Report for Sunday includes my eight strongest plays from Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park.

Let’s head out to Gulfstream Park for Sunday’s featured race of the day:

Gulfstream Park Race 10 The Hal’s Hope G3 (Post time 5:05 ET)

5 Delegation   4-1

6 Csaba   5-2

4 Soldat   6-1

2 Associate   6-1

Analysis: Delegation tracked the early pace and could not get to Csaba in the stretch, checking in second, beaten 3 3/4 lengths for the top spot. The gelding was a good third two back in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), catching an inside speed favoring racing strip. That outing was his first go on dirt in his career. The gelding owns a solid pace profile throughout and looking for him to turn the tables on the likely favorite here.

Csaba took the field gate to wire and landed in a deadheat in the Hooper (G3) two back and he looked even better last out earning a career top winning the Harlan’s Holiday. The colt won 5 of his 12 starts last year and comes in here riding a three race win streak. The 5-2 morning line looks fair enough but the price is likely going to drift south here.

Soldat came up short last out on turf and is now back on the main track here. This guy won the Fountain of Youth (G2) over the main track here back in February of ’11. He has a couple of good works at Palm Meadows and the barn is strong with layoff types.


WIN: #5 to win at 3-1 or better.

EX: 5,6 / 2,4,5,6

TRI: 5,6 / 2,4,5,6 / 2,4,5,6,9


Michael Dempsey provides his full card handicapping report each racing day from New York. His Aqueduct Report is available every day Wednesday through Sunday. Michael has covered the New York circuit daily for more than two decades.


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