(from Del Mar notes)
Sprint champion Midnight Lute appears to be ready for his next start after working faster than the track record for seven furlongs on Del Mar's Polytrack racing surface Aug. 7.
Trained by Bob Baffert, the 5-year-old son of Real Quiet has not raced since his second-place finish in the Cigar Mile (gr. I) at Aqueduct Nov. 24. Prior to the Cigar, Midnight Lute won the Forego Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga by 2 1/4 lengths, followed by the TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) over a sloppy track at Monmouth Park by 4 3/4 lengths, locking up the Eclipse Award as the nation's top sprinter.
With Martin Pedroza aboard, Midnight Lute sizzled seven panels in 1:21 3/5, much faster than the Del Mar Polytrack record of 1:22.46 for the distance set by the filly Lethal Heat in Fleet Treat Stakes July 20.
Baffert, who was at Saratoga Race Course overseeing his horses there, has not determined where Midnight Lute might run next. One option he has mentioned is the $300,000 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) at seven furlongs at Del Mar Aug. 24. Another could be a return in the $250,000 Forego, also over seven furlongs Aug. 30. Baffert could not be reached for comment.
Owned by Watson and Weitman Performances and Mike Pegram, Midnight Lute has won five of 11 starts with lifetime earnings of $1,610,600.
The Pat O'Brien is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" program that awards an automatic berth to the winner for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) Oct. 25 at Santa Anita Park.