07/02/2008 11:00PM

Gleaves pair following up surprises

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MIAMI - Racing can be a funny business. Just ask trainer Phil Gleaves.

The last time Gleaves started Mambo Meister and Alpha Charmer, he expected Mambo Meister to win and was just hoping Alpha Charmer would run a good race. Instead, Mambo Meister finished third as the 2-5 favorite in the Lord Juban Stakes, while Alpha Charmer won the Georgia Oaks by nearly four lengths as a 17-1 longshot.

As a result, Gleaves isn't sure what to expect when he sends both 3-year-olds back to battle in two of the three overnight stakes that highlight Saturday's 12-race program at Calder.

Mambo Meister will likely be favored once again when facing just four rivals in the $36,000 American Dreamer Stakes at a mile. Alpha Charmer runs in the $36,000 Sweettrickydancer Stakes which is scheduled at a mile on the grass.

Mambo Meister displaced his soft palate in the Lord Juban, which cut off his breathing, said Gleaves.

"It probably happened on the first turn when the rider took a hold to get him back off the pace," he said.

Mambo Meister struggled home six lengths behind Thunder Louie in the Lord Juban. It was a major disappointment considering Mambo Meister had run the best race of his career just five weeks earlier, posting a three-length victory in the Ride the Rails Stakes.

"I just hope he gets a smoother trip this time," said Gleaves. "My original thought was to tell the rider to put him on the lead Saturday, but the inside and outside horses are coming off very fast sprint races, so now we'll just play it off the break."

The inside and outside horses Gleaves was referring to are Flatter Me Blue and Cartouche, who will break from posts 1 and 5 respectively in the American Dreamer. Both are coming off an impressive victory - Flatter Me Blue's a two-length decision over high-priced optional claiming rivals on June 8 and Cartouche's a 10-length maiden special weight triumph three days earlier. Both horses were on the lead at every call in those races.

Unbridled Heat, who set the pace before tiring late in both the Ride the Rails and Lord Juban, and Heaven's Awesome complete the lineup.

Alpha Charmer rebounded off a dull showing against entry-level allowance opposition in her Gulfstream Park finale to dominate the Georgia Oaks, rallying from last after the opening half-mile. A daughter of Alphabet Soup, she earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 90, 19 points higher than her previous best. She returns against much the same competition Saturday.

"Her performance was a pleasant surprise to say the least," Gleaves said. "She ran a super race. Now I just have to hope she can run back to that race on Saturday. Weather will be a big factor. Hopefully we'll be able to keep this race on the grass. If it comes off, I'll probably scratch her."

Ashley River and Mysterious Jule, second and third in the Georgia Oaks, will again be top contenders, along with the much-improved Joffe's Run.

* Charlie Papa and Bereba, first and second in the Cool Air Stakes on May 24, renew acquaintances under similar conditions in the $36,000 No Winking Stakes for fillies and mares, carded at five furlongs on the turf.