10/14/2009 11:00PM

Mambo Meister pays a visit home


MIAMI - Running in the Breeders' Cup is not foremost on the minds of trainer Phil Gleaves or the owners of Mambo Meister. But should the versatile gelding win Saturday's $100,000 Spend a Buck Handicap at Calder, you can bet they'll all sit down and at least give the notion some serious consideration.

The 1 1/16-mile Spend a Buck highlights the undercard on the 13-race Festival of the Sun program and is a Win and You're In race for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

"We haven't even discussed the Breeders' Cup," Gleaves said. "That wasn't the impetus for going into this race, but it's something we'd definitely discuss if we were fortunate to win this race and qualify for the Dirt Mile."

Mambo Meister recently returned to his home base at Calder after spending the summer up north, where he ran three times, finishing second and fourth behind Justenuffhumor in Saratoga's Grade 2 Fourstardave and Bernard Baruch handicaps and a troubled fourth in the Grade 3 Red Bank at Monmouth Park.

"There were no opportunities here for him on grass, so we shipped north and I felt he had a pretty productive summer," said Gleaves, who trains Mambo Meister for the Quantum Racing Team LLC. "There's nothing here on grass for him until the Tropical Turf in December, which is why we decided to put him back on the dirt and run in the Spend a Buck."

Although Gleaves considers Mambo Meister to be a little better on turf than dirt, the son of King Cugat has won 4 of his 11 main-track starts, each of those victories coming at Calder.

"We know he really likes this surface here, and he's been training great since he got back home," Gleaves said. "He's on top of his game, and I fully expect a big effort on Saturday."

If Mambo Meister is to win the Spend a Buck, he'll likely have to beat Motovato, the 119-pound highweight among a full field of 12 that also includes key contenders Temo's Dream, Cinnamon Road, and the unknown filly Lady Shatzi.

Motovato returns home off a fifth-place finish in the Presque Isle Mile on Sept. 13 in his first start over a synthetic surface. Like Mambo Meister, Motovato also is very fond of the Calder main track, having won 3 of his 4 local tries including a pair of overnight stakes earlier this year.

Cinnamon Road and Temo's Dream renew acquaintances after finishing first and second in the Needles Stakes three weeks earlier. Temo's Dream actually crossed the finish line first, easily overtaking Cinnamon Road near midstretch en route to an apparent 1 1/2-length triumph in the Needles, only to be disqualified for lugging in and forcing Cinnamon Road to steady briefly inside the eighth pole.

Lady Shatzi, a multiple Group 1 winner in her native Peru, will make her U.S. debut in the Spend a Buck. The 4-year-old has already beaten males on several occasions, and her new owner, Robert Shoukrey, said he would not hesitate to send her to the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile if she were to qualify.

Clement eyes Calder Derby and Oaks

Trainer Christophe Clement starts his annual south Florida invasion with a pair of heavy favorites on the Festival of the Sun undercard - Providanza in the Grade 3 Calder Oaks and Sal the Barber in the Grade 3 Calder Derby. Both races will be decided at a 1 1/8 miles on the turf.

Providanza won a listed stakes in her native France earlier this year and also finished fourth against Group 3 opposition prior to shipping to Clement. She'll face a field that includes Royal Card, who is graded stakes placed but has never started on grass.

Sal the Barber captured an overnight stakes early this summer at Belmont Park and was second behind Courageous Cat in Saratoga's Grade 2 Hall of Fame. The local contingent in the Calder Derby is led by the two-time stakes winner Grand Cash.

* Mr. Green, runner-up to division leader Jackson Bend in both the Dr. Fager and Affirmed divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes, will be favored to beat a very competitive group of 2-year-olds in the $75,000 Birdonthewire Stakes at five furlongs. Mr. Green will face a lineup that includes the undefeated Peace at Dawn and Hear Ye Hear Ye, the pacesetter in Belmont's Grade 2 Futurity in his last start.

* Stakes winner Rosebud's Ridge, the undefeated Slavic Princess, and Sweet Like Sugar headline the field for the $75,000 Cassidy Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.