11/28/2008 1:00AM

Mambo in Seattle tough in Tenacious


Mambo in Seattle is a good-looking bay 3-year-old colt by the standout stallion Kingmambo. You can also refer to him as the 400-pound gorilla in the Tenacious Handicap on Saturday at Fair Grounds.

"If he runs his race, nobody's going to beat him," said rival trainer Mike Stidham, who will send out Secret Getaway against the potential gorilla.

That's right. There is only one horse in the $60,000 Tenacious who nearly won the Grade 1 Travers Stakes this summer, who reeled off two straight wins at the tough Churchill Downs summer meet, and a third at tougher Saratoga. That is Mambo in Seattle, and even though the Neil Howard-trained colt enters this race after two subpar performances, he seems almost certain to be bet way below his Fair Grounds morning line of 2-1.

Mambo in Seattle has eight rivals in the Tenacious, a 1 1/16-mile dirt race that's the first teeny-tiny step toward the New Orleans Handicap. And if Mambo in Seattle bounces back Saturday from a slop-flop in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, and his Polytrack failure last out in the Fayette at Keeneland, he will be on the New Orleans Handicap track.

"We're looking forward to him being a nice horse for us next year as a 4-year-old," Howard said. "I don't think he's been overly raced this year, and we wanted to run him one more time."

Mambo in Seattle never has raced at Fair Grounds, but he got in a six-furlong work here Monday and has breezed four times since finishing seventh as the 6-5 choice in the Oct. 25 Fayette. Mambo in Seattle runs late, and has overcome a slow pace to win before, but that probably won't be necessary in the Tenacious. Stonehouse, a very decent horse in his own right, generally goes to the front in route races, but he should have company there from Good and Lucky, who has led from start to finish three times in four Fair Grounds starts.

Real Dandy, a millionaire, won the $100,000 Louisiana Handicap over this track last January, but has not raced since then. Tend ground out a one-mile second-level allowance score on opening day this meet, but needs a step up from that performance level. And drawn on the far outside is Secret Getaway, who actually finished two places and about a length in front of Mambo in Seattle in the Fayette. A two-time Woodbine stakes winner over the summer, Secret Getaway will be making his first two-turn dirt start.

"He's worked well on dirt and handled it well," Stidham said.

But can Secret Getaway handle Mambo in Seattle? Not if the gorilla shows up.