01/10/2009 12:00AM

Mambo Meister gets stakes test on turf


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Phil Gleaves always thought Mambo Meister would be better on grass than dirt. He'll get a pretty good idea just how much better on Saturday when Mambo Meister goes postward among the favorites in Gulfstream Park's $100,000 Fort Lauderdale, carded at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Mambo Meister, 4, who began his career on turf, first made a name for himself over the main track at Calder, where he won a couple of overnight stakes early last season. But after he finished a troubled seventh in the Grade 2 Super Derby, Gleaves decided it was time to switch the son of King Cugat back to the grass to test his original theory.

And if the initial results are any indication, Gleaves appeared to be right on the mark as Mambo Meister rallied to an easy 3 1/2-length victory over old pros Jet Propulsion and Baron Von Tap in his 3-year-old finale. The performance earned him a 101 Beyer Speed Figure, the best last-race number of any member of the Fort Lauderdale lineup.

"It's time to step up and see what we have," said Gleaves. "This is obviously a quality field, but I think we definitely fit off his last race. I was particularly pleased, and to be honest a little surprised, how well he relaxed down the backside in that race. Hopefully he'll be able to do the same on Saturday."

Mambo Meister will face a field that includes top contenders such as Buffalo Man, Buddy's Humor, Pick Six, Wesley, and Silver Tree.

Buffalo Man won the Grade 3 Appleton over this course last winter and closed out the campaign finishing third against a very strong field in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker Handicap.

Buddy's Humor and Pick Six finished one-two, just a half-length apart, in Aqueduct's Four Bases overnight stakes in their 2008 finale. Buddy's Humor was beaten less than two lengths last summer in the Grade 1 United Nations.

Wesley won the Grade 2 Hall of Fame at Saratoga and was perfect in two starts against older horses last year at 3.

Silver Tree, now 9, appeared to tail off a bit following his victory in Monmouth Park's Grade 3 Oceanport on Aug. 3. But the old veteran loves the local strip, having won four times while never finishing worse than third in seven starts over the Gulfstream turf course.