05/28/2010 11:00PM

Mambo Meister in comfort zone


MIAMI - Trainer Phil Gleaves is still not certain whether Mambo Meister is better on turf or dirt. But one thing he is sure of: Mambo Meister is at his best over Calder's main track, where the versatile gelding will shoot for his second graded stakes victory of the meet in Monday's $100,000 Memorial Day Handicap.

Mambo Meister has won eight races, five on dirt and three on the grass. All five of his main-track wins have come over his home course of Calder, including the Grade 3 Spend a Buck last fall, along with three overnight stakes.

"I don't know if he's as efficient on dirt at other places, but it seems at Calder, dirt is no problem," said Gleaves.

Mambo Meister is coming off a come-from-behind head victory over Pinkney Hill over the local turf course in the Grade 3 Miami Mile Handicap on opening day of the 2010 meet. The outing was his first since being freshened for 30 days on the farm in Ocala, Fla., after a dull performance in Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 Canadian Turf.

"I've given him time between races before, but that was the first time I'd actually sent him out to the farm and he responded with a very good race," said Gleaves. "I think the break really helped him mentally more than physically."

Mambo Meister will carry high weight of 121 pounds, including Manoel Cruz, in the Memorial Day, while conceding from four to seven pounds to opposition that includes Dream Maestro, Unbridled Heat, Too Many Toyz, Causeway's Kin, and Cinnamon Road.

Causeway's Kin is lightly raced but vastly improved and could prove Mambo Meister's chief competition. A son of Giant's Causeway, Causeway's Kin made his stakes debut earlier in the meet in the Sumter overnight stakes, extending his graded-stakes-winning stablemate Motovato through deep stretch before dropping a 1 1/4-length decision. The setback prevented Causeway's Kin from winning three in a row, but earned him a career-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure.

Dream Maestro has finished second in his last three starts and was third following early trouble in the 2009 Memorial Day.

Cinnamon Road led throughout to defeat a good field of allowance horses here earlier this month that included Too Many Toyz, but must avoid an early conflict with Causeway's Kin, who also appears at his best on the lead.