MIAMI, Fla. -- If Mambo Meister is going to successfully defend his title in the $125,000 Miami Mile on Saturday he's going to have to do it the hard way. He is coming back off a 4 1/2-month layoff against a very solid field in the Grade 3 turf fixture that begins the 2011 Calder stakes schedule.
Mambo Meister rallied to a head decision over Pinkney Hill in the 2010 Miami Mile for trainer Phil Gleaves but had already had made three starts earlier that winter at Gulfstream Park before the race. But Mambo Meister will be returning on Saturday for the first time since finishing third in the Grade 3 Fred Hooper over the main track here on Dec. 11, closing out another big campaign that included a victory in the Grade 3 Memorial Day Handicap and a second behind Eclipse Award winner Big Drama in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap.
"I just decided to give him some time off after a long year, but he's doing really well and looks as good as he's ever looked right now," said Gleaves. "He's working well and his last breeze on the turf was great. He's 100-percent fit and ready to go, although this looks like a tougher field than he had to beat to win this race last year."
The competition in the Miami Mile includes Jackson Bend, Voodoo Swinge, and Successful Mission.
Jackson Bend has already proven himself to be a graded stakes-caliber horse on dirt but will be making his turf debut in the Miami Mile. Jackson Bend, who swept the Florida Stallion series here as a 2-year-old, is coming off a second place finish behind S S Stone in the Grade 3 Skip Away at Gulfstream Park earlier this month for trainer Stanley Gold and owner-breeder Fred Brie.
Voodoo Swinge had his five-race win streak snapped when he finished a late-running third making his graded stakes debut in the Grade 3 Tampa Derby on March 19, beaten just a half-length by the more experienced Doubles Partner. A stretch-running son of Unbridled's Song, he is trained by Christophe Clement.
Successful Mission forced the pace of Little Mike before tiring to finish fifth in Gulfstream's Grade 3 Appleton at a mile on April 3. He won a money-conditioned allowance at Gulfstream three weeks earlier and figures to set or force the early pace in the Miami Mile along with Little Nick.
Feels All Right, Dream Maestro and Black Scorpion complete the field.