08/29/2011 2:53PM

Saratoga: Hurricane no concern for Mambo Meister


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Dealing with the effects of a hurricane might be a new experience for the majority of trainers and horses stabled at Saratoga this summer, but not for Phil Gleaves or his handicap star Mambo Meister who have weathered their share of tropical storms and hurricanes while stabled regularly at Calder Race Course in south Florida over the past several summers.

So it should come as little surprise that Mambo Meister was one of only two horses to work over a muddy main track here Monday, the morning after Hurricane Irene passed through the area forcing both training and racing to be canceled Sunday. Mambo Meister zipped three furlongs in 35.20 seconds under exercise rider Oscar Perez.

Mambo Meister shipped to Saratoga from Calder late last week to compete in Saturday’s Grade 1 Woodward. This will be the third summer that Mambo Meister has raced at Saratoga. He finished second in the Grade 2 Fourstardave and fifth in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch over the turf in 2009 and was sixth, following an eventful trip, in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt here last year.

“I was planning on blowing him out for the race on Sunday, but obviously I couldn’t do that and I didn’t want to get too close to the race by waiting until Tuesday,” Gleaves said. “He came in here very fit, I shed rowed him yesterday. The track was fine, and besides, he’s used to these conditions being down at Calder all year. He went very handily this morning, and I thought he looked good doing it.”

Mambo Meister put himself in consideration for the Woodward with his 11-length victory in Calder’s Primal overnight stakes on July 24, a race for which he earned a career-best 110 Beyer Speed Figure.

“I just feel he keeps getting better and better with age,” Gleaves said. “I think he’s changed as he’s gotten older, he’s relaxing more, which makes him able to run longer distances against better horses and now is a good time to step up.”

Gleaves said Fernando Jara, who has been aboard Mambo Meister in each of his last three starts, will have the assignment once again Saturday.

A field of eight is likely for the Woodward, and along with Mambo Meister figures to include Convocation, Flat Out, Giant Oak, Havre de Grace, Ice Box, Mission Impazible, and Rule.