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Mambo Meister Headlines Fred Hooper

Mambo Meister, who has recorded all nine of his lifetime wins at Calder Casino & Race Course, is the one to beat in the $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap (gr. III) Dec. 11 at the South Florida racetrack.

A field of eight was drawn for the 1 1/8-mile contest on dirt, with 5-year-old Mambo Meister assigned top weight of 120 pounds. The gelded son of King Cugat is one of two graded winners in the field and will break from post 7 with Manoel Cruz aboard.
Of Mambo Meister’s nine wins, seven have been stakes and three in graded stakes company. He won the Spend a Buck Handicap (gr. III) last season and has scored the Miami Mile Handicap (gr. IIIT) on turf and Memorial Day Handicap (gr. III) on dirt this season. Trainer Phil Gleaves considered trying his charge in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs last month, but after he finished a distant second in the Oct. 16 Spend a Buck, he decided to bypass the race. He finished fifth in the BC Dirt Mile a year ago on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride.
Though Mambo Meister has been a versatile horse during his four-year career that has seen him earn $573,575 from 32 starts, he is winless in three starts at the Hooper distance. All of his victories have been at one mile or 1 1/16 miles, but his six wins on the Calder dirt still gives him a nice edge. He has been working well at his home track since the Spend a Buck including a bullet four-furlong breeze in :48 1/5 on Dec. 1, co-best of 35 moves that day.

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