Midnight Lute winning the 2007 BC Sprint

Midnight Lute winning the 2007 BC Sprint

Skip Dickstein

Midnight Lute in 'Beautiful' Sprint Work

Defending Sprint champion zips over Pro-Ride surface

Midnight Lute , the defending Sentient Flight Group Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner, worked a half-mile at Santa Anita Oct. 20. The official clockers timed him in :46.80 on the Pro-Ride surface, while trainer Bob Baffert clocked him in :47.07.

“That was beautiful—it was perfect,” Baffert said as the strapping, nearly black horse finished his work with exercise rider Janell Gruss aboard.

Baffert said that his fractions were :12.61 and :23.80 and that Midnight Lute galloped out in :59.61.

“He’s a beautiful horse,” the trainer said. “He’s got a presence.”

Owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman, Midnight Lute will seek to become the only horse ever to win two Breeders’ Cup Sprints. The 5-year-old son of Real Quiet—Candytuft, by Dehere, has to do it off only one race this year, a 10th in the Aug. 24 Pat O’Brien Handicap (gr. II).

“He had a hock injury,” Baffert said in explaining Midnight Lute’s light campaign. “It was minor, and we needed to give him some time. At Del Mar I sort of rushed him to get a race into him, and mentally he wasn’t right. He worked fast, but he wasn’t the Lute that we know. He wouldn’t stand in the gate. He would get mad.”

Midnight Lute grabbed a quarter of his left front foot in the O’Brien. Baffert brought in foot specialist Curtis Burn, and the horse also perked up once he returned to his regular Santa Anita barn.

“Now Lute’s demeanor is fantastic,” Baffert said. “He goes to the gate, walks right in, stands perfect. I broke him from the gate; he broke well. He’s been really enjoying his work.”

Midnight Lute usually runs from off the pace. Baffert admits that he will need luck to repeat and that the start will be crucial in the six-furlong event.

“There’s no room for error in this thing,” he said. “You need to get away from there. When Midnight Lute gets rolling, you just have to make sure he’s got room. If there’s a fast enough pace, they usually separate themselves pretty much. But if there’s not a fast pace and they’re bunched up, then the one-two-three horses will just keep going.”

Baffert also has the quick filly Indian Blessing pre-entered in the Sprint, though she is also pre-entered in the seven-furlong Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. The trainer has indicated the she will likely stay with the fillies, but he said he will wait until the last moment to make the final decision.

“She’s a very sweet filly,” Baffert said.

Winner of the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) and the year’s champion 2-year-old filly, Indian Blessing has won eight of 10 lifetimes starts with two seconds for earnings of $2,087,200. The 3-year-old daughter of Indian Charlie—Shameful, by Flying Chevron, most recently scored a 6 1/4-length victory in the Sept. 20 Gallant Bloom Handicap (gr. II) over older rivals at Belmont Park.