Mambo Meister won last year's Miami Mile.

Mambo Meister won last year's Miami Mile.

Jim Lisa Photos

Refreshed Mambo Meister Returns in Miami Mile

Defending champion faces seven rivals on Calder turf for trainer Phil Gleaves.

Mambo Meister makes his first turf start in more than a year when he defends his title in the $125,000 Miami Mile Handicap (gr. IIT) at Calder Casino and Race Course April 30.

A field of eight is set for the first graded stakes race of Calder's spring/summer season with Mambo Meister assigned top weight of 118 pounds. The 6-year-old Kentucky-bred son of King Cugat is trained by Phil Gleaves for Quantum Racing Team #1 and will be ridden by Paco Lopez. They drew post 7 for the Miami Mile, which is the ninth race on the program and is expected to go off at 4:09 p.m. EDT.

The versatile Mambo Meister has always done well at Calder, whether on the turf or the main track. All nine of his career wins have come at Calder, including three main track victories and in six tries on the lawn. The gelding is 0-for-15 at other tracks during a 33-race career.

Mambo Meister won last year's Miami Mile with a strong late kick to nip favored Pinckney Hill by a head. He was second in the race a year earlier. The bay followed last year's triumph with a 7 3/4-length runaway in the Memorial Day Handicap (gr. III) on Calder's main track.

He has lost five in a row since then and has not been out since finishing third behind emerging star Tackleberry as the favorite in Calder's Fred Hooper Handicap (gr. III) Dec. 11.

“The time was right after the Fred Hooper to give him a break,” said Gleaves recently. “He had a long campaign running strictly in stakes races, several on the road. He’s a gelding and we want to keep him around for awhile. There was nothing wrong with him and now we know how dangerous Tackleberry can be if he’s loose on the lead.

“We gave him two months off in Ocala and he’s been back with me for two months. He’s as good now as he’s ever been in his life and we look forward to getting him going again, fortunately in a race here at home.”

Among the main challengers to Mambo Meister is Green Hills Farm's Voodoo Swinge, whose five-race winning streak for trainer Christophe Clement ended in a sharp third-place effort in the Tampa Bay Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the grass March 19. The 5-year-old son of Unbridled's Song was making his stakes debut in the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay, in which he closed from last in the field of 10 on the far outside to miss by a half-length to the victorious Doubles Partner.

Voodoo Swinge, 5-for-7 in his career, all on the turf, will be making his debut at Calder. The gray/roan horse is to be ridden by Joe Bravo for the first time.

Jacks or Better Farm 4-year-old homebred Jackson Bend, now winless in 10 starts in 2010-11 following a strong second in the Skip Away Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park April 3, will make his turf debut for trainer Stanley Gold. Last year's third-place finisher in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) loved the main track at Calder as a 2-year-old, winning five of six starts with one second.

In his career, the Hear No Evil colt has earned $857,950 while compiling a 5-5-1 mark in 16 starts.

Live Oak Plantations's Successful Mission looks to rebound from a fading fifth in the one-mile Appleton Stakes (gr. III) April 3 at Gulfstream. The 5-year-old Successful Appeal  gelding won an allowance handily at the distance for trainer Edward Plesa Jr. at Gulfstream three weeks before the Appleton.

$125,000 Miami Mile Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 4:09 p.m.), 3 & Up (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Successful Mission (KY), E Trujillo, 117, E Plesa, Jr.
2. Jackson Bend (FL), J Santiago, 116, S I Gold
3. Voodoo Swinge (KY), J Bravo, 116, C Clement
4. Little Nick (FL), O Bocachica, 116, A T Quartarolo
5. Black Scorpion (FL), J C Leyva, 115, J P Rizo
6. Dream Maestro (FL), J C Leyva, 114, W A Kaplan
7. Mambo Meister (KY), P Lopez, 118, P A Gleaves
8. Feels All Right (IRE), R A Vazquez, 115, N Canani