01/09/2010 1:00AM

Surface no concern for Mambo Meister

Barbara D. Livingston
Mambo Meister will make his first start since the BC Dirt Mile in Sunday's Ft. Lauderdale.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The weatherman is calling for rain in the Miami area on Saturday, which could wreak havoc with the turf stakes scheduled this weekend at Gulfstream Park, including Sunday's $100,000 Ft. Lauderdale.

It's a situation that may cause some trainers to lose a little sleep, but not Phil Gleaves, who will send out the versatile Mambo Meister with complete confidence no matter what surface is used to decide the Grade 3 Ft. Lauderdale.

Mambo Meister is one of 14 horses entered for the 1 1/16-mile Ft. Lauderdale. The field also includes defending champ Kiss the Kid, the 2009 runner-up Society's Chairman, the speedy and always-dangerous Jet Propulsion, and multiple graded stakes winner Dry Martini.

Mambo Meister will be making his first start since finishing fifth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, beaten just two lengths despite trouble through the stretch. The son of King Cugat has posted two of his seven wins on grass and was sixth, beaten a length by Kiss the Kid despite having to take up on a couple of occasions, in the 2009 Ft. Lauderdale.

"Weather could be a factor, but fortunately he's the type of horse who can go either way," Gleaves said. "I don't have a preference one way or the other between the turf and the dirt. To be honest, I'm still not sure which surface he prefers. One thing I do know is that he's continued to progress with age, and the way he's training, I expect him to run big."

Perhaps Gleaves's chief concern in the Ft. Lauderdale is the fact that Mambo Meister's old nemesis Jet Propulsion could get loose on an easy lead. Jet Propulsion, who was claimed by trainer Marty Wolfson for $50,000 out of a win at Calder in his 2009 finale, defeated Mambo Meister by a neck after leading throughout in an allowance race here last winter.

"Any time speed is loose it's always dangerous, especially with a quality horse like Jet Propulsion," Gleaves said.

Kiss the Kid captured both the Ft. Lauderdale and Grade 3 Appleton here last winter, but has not won in eight starts since leaving south Florida.

If the race stays on the grass, the Ft. Lauderdale will mark Dry Martini's first start on turf since he finished fifth in Belmont's Grade 3 Knickerbocker more than 14 months earlier. A switch to the main track would obviously play to his advantage.

The remainder of the field is Yate's Black Cat, Star Plus, Danak, Vacation, Sam P., Wheels Up at Noon, Bittel Road, Duke of Mischief, Valtrus, and Wingedlie.