10/05/2010 2:17PM

Mambo Meister's focus is strictly on Spend a Buck

Barbara D. Livingston
Mambo Meister, with trainer Phil Gleaves, will attempt to defend his title in next week's Spend a Buck.

MIAMI – After having what trainer Phil Gleaves called “an eventful summer all around,” Mambo Meister is back home on familiar grounds and ready to try to defend his title a week from Saturday in the Grade 3 Spend a Buck at Calder.

The Spend a Buck is a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Mambo Meister used his free ticket to finish fifth, beaten just two lengths, in the 2009 Dirt Mile although Gleaves is leaving any thoughts regarding a return trip to the Breeders’ Cup until after his next race.

“The Breeders’ Cup is not even a topic of discussion at this point,” said Gleaves. “We’ll see what he looks like in the Spend a Buck first.”

Mambo Meister’s “eventful summer” began with a troubled sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Vanderbilt at Saratoga and continued with a s sixth-place effort five weeks later in the Presque Isle Mile.

“He laid way too close for a sprint race in the Vanderbilt,” said Gleaves. “He didn’t run his race at Presque Isle but I think it was more the lights and night racing he wasn’t comfortable with than the track surface.”

Mambo Meister tuned up for the Spend a Buck by working a half-mile in 50.11 seconds around the dogs over a good turf course on Monday, completing his final eighth in 11:63, according to Daily Racing Form .

“I just thought I’d give him something a little different,” was Gleaves’s explanation for working his horse on the grass for a race to be run at 1 1/16 miles over the main track.

Mambo Meister is one of 14 3-year-olds and up nominated to the Spend a Buck, to be run on the Festival of the Sun undercard on Oct. 16.

Tannersville returns to turf for Calder Derby

Henry Collazo is certainly one trainer glad to see all the rain that has plagued the area lately clear out and the turf course finally open for business once again.

Collazo has been frustrated on several occasions this summer trying to get Tannersville on the turf, including the 3-year-old’s most recent start, when he finished a late-running third in the Needles. Collazo will try to get him back on grass again a week from Saturday in the Calder Derby. Tannersville has won 3 of his 4 career starts on grass, including a second-level allowance race against older horses by nearly eight lengths on Aug. 27. That performance was certain to have made him one of the favorites for the Needles until the race was taken off the grass due to the wet weather. And although Tannersville was beaten six lengths by El Kingdom, Collazo was encouraged by his effort.

“The way he finished down the lane last time on the main track made me smile,” said Collazo. “I always thought he could handle the dirt although naturally I’m hoping he’ll be able to get back on the turf for the next one. The weather is nice right now but we’ve still got almost two weeks to go so you never know.”

Ritvo takes position with MI Developments

Former jockey and trainer Tim Ritvo has been appointed to the position of vice president of East Coast Racing for MI Developments.

Ritvo, 45, will oversee racing operations for MI Developments’s three East coast tracks – Gulfstream Park, Laurel, and Pimlico – effective immediately.

Ritvo began his racing career as a jockey, winning nearly 500 races from 1982-1987. He also served as a racing official at New England tracks from 1987-1990 before ultimately turning to a career training horses in 1997. Ritvo has served as a board of director for the Florida Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association for the past six years and as the organization’s vice president for the last three.

“I’m both excited at the opportunity given to be by Mr. Frank Stronach as well as appreciative and very respectful of what he has and still hopes to accomplish for racing not only at Gulfstream Park but throughout the country,” Ritvo said. “This is a great opportunity for someone like me who loves racing and I am extremely excited about the upcoming meeting. With the extra revenues for purses from the slots and the new bonus programs that have been put in place tied to the Triple Crown, I’m confident we can build on and even better the great caliber of racing that we have been accustomed to seeing down here each winter.”

◗ The undefeated 2-year-old Gourmet Dinner worked five furlongs in 1:01.28 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.90 over the main track on Monday as he continues to prepare for the 1 1/16-mile In Reality, highlight of the Festival of the Sun card.