05/20/2008 11:00PM

Mambo Meister shows new dimension in return


MIAMI - After having his stakes plans for Mambo Meister put on hold due to a lung infection suffered in the week leading up to Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes, trainer Phil Gleaves finds himself back on track after his promising 3-year-old registered an impressive three-length victory in Sunday's Ride the Rails Stakes.

Mambo Meister, a son of King Cugat owned by James Cavanaugh and Chris Pallas, showed a new dimension when rallying from off the pace to his second career victory in the 1 1/16-mile Ride the Rails. The strategy was owed in part to Gleaves's decision to take blinkers off a horse who had done most of his racing on or near the lead.

"I thought it was a nice performance," Gleaves said. "He definitely needed blinkers last year because he was running a little erratically and wanted to look around through the stretch. He has a world of speed, but now I wanted to get him to relax and it worked out really well. He seemed to switch off nicely without the blinkers."

Mambo Meister earned a career best 93 Beyer Speed Figure for his victory in the Ride the Rails.

"I think his best races are ahead of him," Gleaves said. "We tried to take a slow but steady pace with him, by design, early in his career and, as a result, we should have a fresh horse and are hoping to have fun with him during the summer."

Gleaves said he is considering either Churchill Downs's Northern Dancer or Monmouth Park's Spend a Buck for Mambo Meister's next start.

"I'll continue to train him at Calder until his next start, and after that we'll probably stay on the road and keep him up north," Gleaves said.

Delightful Kiss returns on turf

Saturday's card will feature three overnight stakes topped by the $36,000 Blazing Sword, a 7 1/2-furlong turf event that marks the return of the multiple graded stakes winner Delightful Kiss.

Delightful Kiss has not started since finishing fifth in the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby on Aug. 4. The 4-year-old gelded son of Kissin Kris has recorded six published works since returning to trainer Pete Anderson's barn here earlier this winter, including a bullet four furlongs in 47.82 seconds Sunday morning.

Delightful Kiss, who owns a win in six tries on grass, will face a full field of 10, including the multiple turf stakes winner Croton Road.

Saturday's 11-race card also offers the $36,000 Cool Air Stakes at five furlongs on the grass and the $36,000 Harmony Lodge for 3-year-old fillies on the main track.

Racing secretary finds solution

With allowance races here being decided for purses as little as $18,200, and a mere $16,100 for non-Florida-breds, horsemen are reluctant to lose valuable lifetime conditions to win such a relatively small prize. With that in mind, racing secretary Mike Anifantis has given trainers a solution to the dilemma, Friday's second race providing a perfect case in point.

Anifantis added an optional claiming condition to the nonwinners-of- two allowance race. But instead of putting the usual $16,000 or $25,000 claiming tag on the event, Anifantis made the claiming price $100,000. All six starters took advantage of the condition, which means the winner will not lose a condition, nor is it likely that any of the six will be haltered for such a lofty sum.

At one time, Holy Rock might have been a candidate for a $100,000 claim slip, having opened his career by earning a pair of 90 Beyers in a maiden win at Gulfstream and a second-place finish in a high-priced optional claimer at Belmont Park. But Holy Rock will enter Friday's contest idle since June. He is based locally with trainer Tim Ritvo after making his first three starts for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.

Despite the layoff, Holy Rock figures to be among the choices in a field that also includes Flatter Me Blue, who was the early pacesetter in the recent Naked Greed Stakes, Grande, and A.P. Eddie.