05/24/2012 1:21PM

Calder: Gleaves has strong pair for turf or dirt in Mambo Meister Stakes


MIAMI – Nobody wants to win Saturday’s $55,000 Mambo Meister Stakes at Calder more than trainer Phil Gleaves.

Gleaves trained the multiple graded stakes winner Mambo Meister throughout his career, which ended tragically when he had to be euthanized after suffering severe injuries during a routine workout here earlier this spring.

“Calder management said right away they were going to name a race after Mambo Meister this year, and I’m humbled that they’ve done that,” Gleaves said.

The Mambo Meister is a one-mile overnight stakes for 3-year-olds scheduled to be run on the turf. Gleaves has two key contenders, Csaba and Miami Cat, for the race.

“As fortune would have it, I’ve got two horses eligible for the Mambo Meister, and both should be tough,” Gleaves said. “And I plan to run them both, whether the race goes on the turf or is moved to the main track as it looks like it might well have to be due to all the rain we’ve had.”

Csaba is the more accomplished of the pair, having won three of his eight career starts, including a second-level allowance race by nearly six lengths just two weeks earlier. Csaba, a son of Kitten’s Joy, has posted all three of his victories in races switched from the turf to the main track. He also finished sixth earlier this season in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and third, behind Howe Great and Dullahan, when getting an opportunity to try the turf in Gulfstream Park’s Grade 3 Palm Beach.

“We’ve thought highly of Csaba all winter long, enough to try him in the Fountain of Youth, although he had a rough trip that day,” Gleaves said. “He also got into trouble here in the Calder Derby. That race wasn’t him, but he bounced back and ran very good race last time. He’s already shown a lot on dirt, but you’d bet money, with his breeding, he’d be better on grass and as time goes on and he progresses, he’ll go back to the turf whether it’s this weekend or later on.”

Miami Cat has posted two straight victories, both at Calder, after finishing second to the odds-on Scaramanga debuting under a $50,000 claiming tag this winter at Gulfstream. Like Csaba, Miami Cat also is coming off an easy, wire-to-wire allowance win in a race switched from turf to dirt here earlier this month.

“I had him here as a 2-year-old, but he had little 2-year-old issues, so we took our time with him and as a result didn’t get him to the races until 3,” Gleaves said. “I took the blinkers off him for his last start because he was stretching out around two turns and I thought the way he was training he’d be too sharp early going a distance of ground.

“Although he’s never raced on the turf, I’ve already breezed him on grass, and he liked it, so he should do well no matter which surface they go on Saturday.”

Gleaves will have two of the nine potential starters in the Mambo Meister. The rest of the field consists of Farmers Market, Musical Flair, Empire Builder, El Romano, Two is to Many, Small Token, and Imperador Sarava.

Musical Flair is a versatile sort who was a stakes winner on the turf this winter, while Empire Builder also was stakes placed over the turf at Gulfstream.

I Ain’t Gonna Lie impresses

Gleaves also is excited about his newest prospect, I Ain’t Gonna Lie, a 2-year-old filly by Monarchos, who won her debut by four lengths over a sloppy track Saturday. I Ain’t Gonna Lie, a half-sister to Miami Cat owned by Amy Gleaves, completed five furlongs in 59.56 seconds, covering the distance .25 of a second faster than the colt division of the same race decided earlier on the card.

“She trained very well leading up to the race, and I was very impressed with her performance,” Phil Gleaves said. “She’s Florida bred, so we’ll wait for the J J’sdream Stakes at the end of June. That should give her ample time to recover from this first start.”