09/19/2008 12:00AM

Mambo in Seattle to take on Curlin

Barbara D. Livingston
Since the Travers, Mambo in Seattle has worked three times at Belmont, including a seven-furlong move in 1:27.44 last Sunday.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Neil Howard made official Friday what he has been hinting at for the last week: Mambo in Seattle, the hard-luck loser of the Travers Stakes, will face Curlin in next Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.

Following his nose loss to Colonel John in the Travers, Mambo in Seattle was being pointed to this Saturday’s Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. But the extra week, combined with how well Mambo in Seattle has been training over Belmont Park’s main track, convinced Howard and owner Will Farish to try the Gold Cup, a race they won five years ago with Mineshaft.

“I know a week doesn’t seem that long to the average Joe, but a week can mean the world sometimes going from race to race, especially off the strenuous type of races,” Howard said. “At the same time, we agreed he should be training as good or better going into this race as he was for the Travers, and surprisingly enough I feel that he has.”

Since the Travers, Mambo in Seattle has worked three times at Belmont, including a seven-furlong move in 1:27.44 last Sunday.

“That work last Sunday was the most important thing he was going to do between the races,” said Howard, who plans an easy half-mile move Tuesday. “He came out of that good.”

Last year as a 3-year-old, Curlin upset Lawyer Ron, who was coming off a victory in the Woodward at Saratoga. Curlin comes out of a victory in the Woodward at the Spa on Aug. 30.

“As good as we feel the horse is doing, when are you ever doing good enough to take on a horse like Curlin?” Howard said. “We have nothing but the utmost respect for him, like everybody else does. We agree he ran a good race; we didn’t see any blemishes anywhere.”

Howard said Edgar Prado will ride Mambo in Seattle. Robby Albarado, who rode Mambo in Seattle in the Travers, is the regular rider of Curlin.

Others pointing to the Gold Cup are Frost Giant, Merchant Marine, Timber Reserve, and Wanderin Boy.

Rodriguez to miss 6 to 8 weeks

Jockey Rudy Rodriguez suffered a fractured left collarbone in a spill here Wednesday and will be out of action from 6 to 8 weeks. Rodriguez rode Frost Giant to an upset in the Grade 1 Suburban in July.

Rodriguez was aboard Cape Cod Escape in Wednesday’s sixth race when that horse broke down at the three-sixteenths pole, unseating Rodriguez, who landed hard on the main track.

In addition to riding horses in the afternoon, Rodriguez gets on horses every morning for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. at Aqueduct.

Meriwether Jessica wins on DQ

Meriwether Jessica finished second, but was placed first in Thursday’s $78,500 Jack Betta Be Rite Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-old fillies. Meriwether Jessica, under Eibar Coa, was forced to check at the eighth pole when Lost Without You, under John Velazquez, came over into her path.

After steadying, Meriwether Jessica re-rallied and fell just a head short at the wire to Lost Without You, who ran six furlongs in 1:09.07. After an inquiry, the stewards ruled that Lost Without You interfered with Meriwether Jessica. Meriwether Jessica, trained by Linda Rice and owned by Patsy Symons, returned $5.80.