02/19/2010 12:00AM

Gleaves likely to keep Mambo Meister at home


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Phil Gleaves has an unenviable decision to make on Saturday. He can either send his versatile Mambo Meister out against Breeders' Cup Mile runner-up Courageous Cat in Gulfstream Park's $150,000 Canadian Turf, or ship him to Tampa to face the dual Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti for an identical purse in the Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup.

Gleaves entered Mambo Meister in both races but said he's almost certain to stay at home for the Grade 3 Canadian, a one-mile race that drew a field of nine, plus one main-track-only also-eligible.

"Both races are obviously very tough, with Courageous Cat running here and Gio Ponti at Tampa," said Gleaves. "Basically we're leaning heavily towards running here since it's only been two weeks since his last start, and adding a ship to Tampa probably wouldn't be in the horse's best interests."

Mambo Meister won the Grade 3 Spend a Buck at Calder to earn a spot in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, where he finished fifth, beaten just two lengths, despite trouble through the stretch. He has already run twice here this meet, finishing third in the Grade 3 Ft. Lauderdale and a distant fourth behind Quality Road in the Grade 1 Donn earlier this month.

"I thought he ran a good race in the Donn," said Gleaves. "Nobody was going to beat Quality Road that day and we only got beat about a length for second. More important, he's been feeling on top of his game since coming out of that race."

Courageous Cat has not started since running the race of his life in the Breeders' Cup Mile when he was narrowly beaten by Eclipse Award winner Goldikova after drawing clear at midstretch. A lightly raced son of Storm Cat, Courageous Cat won the Grade 2 Hall of Fame at Saratoga and was also a narrowly beaten third behind multiple Grade 1 winner Take the Points in Belmont's Grade 1 Jamaica at 3 last year.

A homebred trained by Bill Mott for owners Pam and Martin Wygod, Courageous Cat will carry high weight of 124 pounds in the Canadian Turf, including Garrett Gomez.

Trainer Marty Wolfson entered Jet Propulsion and Pickapocket in the Canadian. Pickapocket also was cross-entered at Tampa. Jet Propulsion led throughout to win the Sunshine Millions Turf three weeks ago, but he faces the prospect of some early pace pressure Saturday from Le Grand Cru and perhaps Rahystrada.