'Lute to Return in Palos Verdes
Photo: Skip Dickstein
Breeders' Cup Sprint Winner Midnight Lute may return a month earlier than expected in the Palos Verdes Handicap.

Midnight Lute, expected to earn an Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding sprinter in 2007 after his stirring win in the TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), is being targeted for the Palos Verdes Handicap (gr. II) to begin his 2008 campaign.

The six-furlong Palos Verdes is Jan. 21, the same day that the Eclipse winners for 2007 will be named.

Trainer Bob Baffert said Jan. 12 that, weather and Cushion Track conditions permitting, he will move up Midnight Lute's seasonal debut. Previously, Baffert had said Midnight Lute would return in the seven-furlong San Carlos Handicap (gr. II) on Feb. 16.
           
“I’ve got him ready to run,” Baffert said. “What if it rains San Carlos weekend? I just don’t want to sit on him. He’s cranked up, he worked really well the other day at Hollywood. I don’t think I can sit on him until the San Carlos.”

The 5-year-old son of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winner Real Quiet worked six furlongs Jan. 8 in a bullet 1:11.

Midnight Lute won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint by 4 3/4 lengths on Monmouth Park’s sloppy track last Oct. 27 under Garrett Gomez, who has the mount in the Palos Verdes.

Midnight Lute was second by 2 1/2 lengths as the 1-2 favorite in his most recent start, the Hill 'n' Dale Cigar Mile (gr. I) at Aqueduct Nov. 24.

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