10/23/2008 12:00AM

Mambo in Seattle favored in Fayette


LEXINGTON, Ky. - An abbreviated live card Saturday at Keeneland sports a Breeders' Cup theme in at least one regard - huge fields that should make for lively wagering.

The first six of seven races drew full fields of 12, while the last one, the Grade 3 Fayette Stakes, got 11 - including a colt who would not have been out of place in the Breeders' Cup. Mambo in Seattle, who came within an inch of winning the Travers Stakes in August when beaten by Colonel John, is the logical favorite in the $150,000 Fayette.

Mambo in Seattle, with Corey Lanerie to ride, will break from post 2 in the 1 1/8-mile Polytrack race.

"He came out of his last race good," said trainer Neil Howard, referring to a fourth-place finish behind Curlin in the Sept. 27 Jockey Club Gold Cup. "We wanted to run him another time or two. He's had a good season. He is going to race as a 4-year-old, and if all goes well, the Breeders' Cup would be something to target for him next fall. But for now, we wanted to pick a race or two that would suit us better and keep him going, and the Fayette looked like the right spot."

Howard said the Nov. 28 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs is "a possibility." As for the Fayette, Mambo in Seattle can be expected to lay closer than normal to the pace simply because the field has a startling lack of early speed, other than Ball Four, a longshot drawn in post 1.

Ball Four has back class, having earned more than $500,000, but no recency, and after showing the way, he can be expected to yield to an onrush of closers. Mambo in Seattle isn't the only one who should be kicking late. Other capable closers include several who have known success on the Keeneland Poly, including Dominican, winner of the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at the 2007 spring meet; Jade's Revenge, winner of the 2007 Ben Ali and 2008 Fort Harrod; Minister's Joy, the 2007 Ben Ali runner-up; and Stream Cat, the 2007 Fayette runner-up behind Go Between.

Saturday is closing day of the 17-day fall meet. First post is 12:55 p.m Eastern., 15 minutes earlier than normal. Live action on the Kentucky circuit moves Sunday to Churchill.