06/29/2010 12:00AM

Mambo Meister to sprint in Smile


MIAMI - When Mambo Meister worked three furlongs in 34.01 seconds here Monday morning, the same day his name appeared on the nomination sheet for the $350,000 Smile Sprint Handicap, it was logical to assume that trainer Phil Gleaves was seriously considering turning his multiple graded stakes winner back in distance to try the Grade 2 Smile on the July 10 Summit of Speed program. Gleaves confirmed that later on Monday.

"We're going to run him in the Smile," Gleaves said. "The genesis of this decision is that the breeder always felt the horse could sprint. He is part of the ownership group as well, and we've always wanted to try it but never got around to doing it until now."

Watching Mambo Meister work immediately after the renovation break on Monday, it was hard to tell the horse has never raced at less than a mile in his career. Breaking off at the three-furlong pole with regular rider Manoel Cruz aboard, Mambo Meister covered his opening quarter-mile in a blistering 22.59 while kept about four or five paths off the rail entering the stretch. He completed his final furlong in 11.42 without urging, before galloping out a half-mile into the clubhouse turn in 46.66.

"I told Manny to give him a sharp three-eighths but not get to the bottom of him," Gleaves said. "I was looking for 34 and change or thereabouts, and I was really pleased with the ease which he did it. This work really blew me away. I was quite comfortable with what I saw, and while he was really on his toes when he came back to the barn, an hour later he was grazing and acting as if he hadn't done a thing."

Mambo Meister is already the star of the current session, having won the meet's first two graded stakes -- the Grade 3 Miami Mile Handicap over the turf on opening day and the Grade 3 Memorial Day Handicap five weeks later.

"The bottom line is that we've always wanted to try him sprinting, and this is the perfect opportunity," Gleaves said. "The race is in our own backyard, it's a lot of money, and he absolutely loves this racetrack. And it's not like turning horses back to win stakes is without precedent. It's done all the time."

Summit of Speed nominations

The Smile will be the co-feature on the Summit of Speed card along with the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap. Nominations for all four graded stakes on the program, including the Grade 2 Carry Back and Grade 3 Azalea, were released Monday with Mambo Meister one of 18 horses nominated for the Smile. The group includes four horses from the barn of trainer Todd Pletcher, who said Monday he plans on sending only Go Go Shoot down for the race. Other likely contenders for the Smile include the locally based Big Drama, Not for Silver, Golden Spikes, and Kruger Park.

The Princess Rooney, which like the Smile is once again a Win and You're In race for the Breeders' Cup, attracted 19 nominations, topped by the Pletcher-trained Hour Glass, Grade 2 winner Warbling, and Dr. Zic and Dubai Majesty, the first- and second-place finishers in Keeneland's Grade 1 Madison this spring.

The marquee name on the Summit of Speed card will be D' Funnybone, who will go postward a prohibitive favorite to defeat a small field in the Carry Back. Trainer Rick Dutrow confirmed earlier this week that D' Funnybone, who began his career at Calder, would accompany stablemate Golden Spikes to south Florida for the six-furlong Carry Back.

"We know he loves the track," Dutrow said. "The timing is good from his last race to this one and from this one to our next objective, which is the King's Bishop at Saratoga. And right now, he is doing fantastic."

Dutrow said D' Funnybone was scheduled to work at Aqueduct on Thursday.

Only 10 3-year-olds were nominated to the Carry Back. In comparison, 18 3-year-old fillies were made eligible for the Azalea, among them the locally based sensation Pica Slew and the Bob Baffert-trained quartet of Bonnie Blue Flag, Crisis of Spirit, Excellent News, and Rapport.

Baffert made nine nominations overall to the four graded stakes on the Summit program, including E Z's Gentleman and Silver Stetson Man for the Smile. Rapport was cross-nominated into the Rooney, along with stablemates Moon De French and Mother Ruth.

* Despite losing his bug after Saturday's program, Luis Saez widened his lead atop the jockey standings after riding eight more winners here last week. Saez enters Thursday's program with 64 victories, 15 more than defending champ Cruz, who was forced to sit out two days last week to complete a riding suspension meted out earlier in the session.

* Five horses who won their previous start have been entered for Thursday's $31,600 optional claiming feature, carded at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Black Scorpion, a horse who has not won since summer 2009, may actually go postward as the favorite and horse to beat if the race goes as scheduled on the grass. Black Scorpion will be getting some significant class relief, dropping back to allowance company off a couple of good efforts against stakes competition earlier in the meet.