Midnight Lute, a recent arrival from California trained by Bob Baffert, drew off by 4 3/4 lengths in winning the $200,000 Perryville Stakes (presented by Budweiser Select) (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Keeneland Friday.It was the third win in four starts for the son of Real Quiet, who was dismissed at odds of 7-1. He ran the seven furlongs and 184 feet in 1:24.38 on a fast track and earned $124,000 for owners Karl Watson, Paul Weitman, and Mike Pegram.A $70,000 product of the 2004 September Yearling Sale, the colt won his debut last year in July and, following a year layoff, won one of two outings during the recently completed Del Mar meeting."We've always thought he was a monster," said Baffert. "He had some throat problems early on, but we healed those and now he really is starting to show his stuff."Midnight Lute, ridden by Victor Espinoza, defeated Lewis Michael, ridden by Rene Douglas. It was three lengths back to third-place Court Folly, who rallied from last in the field of 11 3-year-olds for Calvin Borel. In hand early, Midnight Lute rallied from between horses while six paths off the rail coming off the turn, taking the lead from Lewis Michael at the eighth pole and pulling well clear.The fifth choice in the betting, paid $16.20, $8.60, and $6.20."When he turned for home, he really kicked it in. He finished really strong and went by the other horses really easy," said Espinoza.
Tom Evans, Macon Wilmil Equines, and Marjac Farms bred Midnight Lute in Kentucky. The dark bay or brown colt is out of Candytuft, by Dehere.
Lewis Michael, who took the lead at the top of the stretch, returned $8 and $5; Court Folly paid $4.40.High Finance, the 5-2 favorite, lost the photo for third by a head."We're disappointed, but he stumbled badly and grabbed a quarter in the race," said trainer Richard Violette, Jr. "He came back bleeding very badly. He fought hard to finish fourth."Praying for Cash finished fifth, followed by Sailors Sunset, Reigning Court, Mach Ride, Latent Heat, Likely, and Fabled. Vanilla Scoop scratched.