11/22/2011 4:38PM

Fair Grounds: Mambo Galliano tries for Thanksgiving repeat without a prep race

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NEW ORLEANS – Mambo Galliano won the 2010 Thanksgiving Handicap in his first start after a four-month layoff, a performance that proved two things: Mambo Galliano can fire fresh, and Mambo Galliano likes the Fair Grounds main track.

But somewhere in time lies a line dividing freshness from rustiness, and as Mambo Galliano seeks to repeat in the $75,000 Thanksgiving, handicappers will have to decide if he’s crossed it. Eight months have passed since Mambo Galliano’s last race, a win the $150,000 Duncan Kenner here March 26, and his bid for a second straight Thanksgiving hinges on his readiness.

Mambo Galliano is one of eight entered in the six-furlong Thanksgiving, with Tim Thornton scheduled to travel from Chicago to ride the horse for owner-trainer Louie Roussel. Roussel, his assistant trainer, Heidi Patton, said Tuesday, hoped to start Mambo Galliano in an allowance race at Hawthorne as a springboard to the Thanksgiving, but the race failed to attract sufficient entries and never was used, leaving Mambo Galliano, who lost time over the summer due to a foot abscess, to race Thursday off workouts alone.

Mambo Galliano, Patton said, appears fit, and his work tab looks excellent. He breezed strongly at Hawthorne and posted a bullet 59.20-second five-furlong workout here Nov. 18. A stalking type with a strong late kick, Mambo Galliano should get a decent setup behind a quick, contested pace, and might be along in time for another Thanksgiving victory on Thursday’s opening-day card, which begins at 11 a.m. Central.

Cash Refund, one of the pace players, has won five of his six Fair Grounds starts, but his run of local dominance ended in the 2010 Kenner. Cash Refund – always lightly raced – performed below par in his last two starts, the most recent of which came in July, and there is reason to wonder if he will ever get back to his best.

“He certainly trains just as good,” said trainer Steve Margolis. “He’s strong, holding his flesh, and he has a liking for that track.”

Cash Refund is drawn outside the speedy Tidal Volume – who might have benefitted from a track bias winning the Temperence Hill at Louisiana Downs – but inside Joe Hollywood, who also figures to make a bid for the lead. Gantry, making his first start since being privately purchased and turned over to trainer Ron Faucheux, also could add fuel to the early pace, which would be fine with Al Stall, trainer of Trubs. Trubs won the Black Gold Stakes in his only Fair Grounds start, and should be positioned similarly to Mambo Galliano.

“A hot pace and the long stretch, that’s what we’re hoping works,” Stall said.

Mr. Sulu: Snakebite Kit returns

Snakebite Kit returns from a long layoff in Thursday’s co-featured $60,000 Mr. Sulu, where he meets class-dropping Populist Politics in a one-mile grass race for Louisiana-breds.

Snakebite Kit, 4 for 4 on the Fair Grounds turf course, hasn’t started since winning the Louisiana Champions Day Turf here almost one year ago, but has turned in strong morning work for trainer Eddie Johnston. But between the layoff and the presence of several other front-running types, the Mr. Sulu could fall to a late run from Populist Politics, who exits solid performances in the Grade 2 Super Derby and the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby.

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