06/09/2009 11:00PM

Mambo Meister dangerous on either surface


MIAMI - While the four prep races for the July 11 Summit of Speed program at Calder will highlight Saturday's Summit Preview card, there is a fifth stakes race on the agenda that figures to draw plenty of attention. How much attention, however, depends upon the weather.

The $55,000 Blazing Sword overnight stakes is scheduled for a mile on the turf, but from the looks of the 10-horse field it is apparent many trainers are banking on the race being switched to the main track. And why shouldn't they, considering there had been only one race over the local turf course during the four-week period of May 13 through Thursday.

Of course, turf or dirt, it won't matter to trainer Phil Gleaves, whose Mambo Meister is adept on both surfaces. He has already proven that during this meet by finishing second in the Grade 3 Miami Mile Handicap on the grass and winning the Big Bubbles by nearly five lengths after the overnight event was moved to the main track.

"I'd rather be on the grass," said Gleaves. "But naturally we'll keep him in either way."

Despite the fact Mambo Meister has posted four of his five career victories on dirt, Gleaves said he feels he's a better horse on turf.

"I think turf is really his forte," said Gleaves. "And we're hoping to use this race as a prep for something out of town next. That's why we'd love to get him back on the grass on Saturday. There are options for him in Kentucky and New York after this but we haven't decided exactly which direction we'll head yet. We'll take things step by step, get by this race first, and then decide what's next."

If the Blazing Sword goes as scheduled, Mambo Meister should get tested by Vanquisher and Baron Von Tap. On the main track, Motovato, runner-up in the Grade 3 Memorial Day Handicap, is strictly the one to beat.

Former rider returns as trainer

Saturday will be a homecoming for trainer Michelle Lovell, who will send out Going to the Sun as one of the top contenders in the $100,000 Leave Me Alone Stakes. Lovell will be returning to Calder for the first time in more than 11 years and for the first time competitively since she finished riding here on a regular basis under her maiden name, Michelle Hanley, in 1994.

Lovell, a native of West Palm Beach, Fla., can't wait to come back home.

"I rode my first race at Calder in 1988, won my first race the next season at Hialeah, and rode all the Florida tracks, even Tampa, before finally retiring in 1994," Lovell recalled. "I just decided to get out of the racing business altogether at that point and go to Oregon with some friends to open a coffee house. But once racing gets in your blood, it's hard to get it out, so I returned to the business and eventually began training horses about five years ago."

Lovell's stable, which had been split between Texas and Louisiana, has grown to 26 horses and is now based entirely on the Louisiana circuit. Lovell claimed Going to the Sun for the Agave Racing Stable for $25,000 out of her career debut last winter at Fair Grounds. She earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure winning her maiden last month at Louisiana Downs and with a big effort could bring Lovell back to Calder in four weeks for the Grade 3 Azalea on July 11.

"I am really excited about going back down there and seeing some of my old friends again," said Lovell, whose husband, Casey, vanned Going to the Sun down to Calder earlier in the week. "This is a scary jump moving this filly from a maiden win into stakes company but she got under a 7 on the Ragozin sheets besides that big Beyer for her last race, and I think she's got a big shot against these fillies."

Lovell said she's uncertain whether she will bring Going to the Sun back home after the Leave Me Alone or leave her her in town if it looks like she will be going on to the Azalea.

"Right now we're planning on taking her back to Louisiana," said Lovell. "But I've known quite a few people on the backstretch down there for a long time and I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem if I wanted to leave the filly right there for the next one."