09/15/2011 1:07PM

Calder: Foolish Pleasure becomes suitable short-range target for Midnight Serenade


MIAMI – Midnight Serenade is a Florida-bred but unfortunately for his connections, trainer Steve DiMauro and owner-breeder Leanne Robbins, the 2-year-old gelding is not eligible for the Florida Stallion Series. That makes Saturday’s $100,000 Foolish Pleasure Stakes the main goal at the moment for the steadily improving Midnight Serenade, who figures to be the slight favorite against five well-matched rivals in the first of four stakes events on Calder’s 12-race Festival of the Sun Preview program.

The Foolish Pleasure will be followed, in order, by the $75,000 Judy’s Red Shoes for 3-year-old fillies on the turf, the $100,000 Brave Raj for 2-year-old fillies, and the $75,000 Needles for 3-year-olds on the grass.

Midnight Serenade has crossed the finish line first in each of his last three starts but lost the first of those wins when disqualified and placed sixth for causing interference in late stretch while competing against maidens under a $40,000 claiming tag on July 10. Although the end result was a disappointment, the performance proved to be a harbinger of things to come for Midnight Serenade, who came right back to defeat maiden special weight opposition three weeks later as a prelude to his impressive 2 3/4-length triumph in the one-mile Seacliff on Aug. 27.

“I think his improvement is a combination of several things,” said DiMauro. “In his first couple of starts he just wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do and perhaps we rushed him a little bit more than necessary as there is a tendency to do with 2-year-olds in shorter sprint races. We finally let him settle and make one run in his third start and that has made him a better horse. We also put him on Lasix after his second start although I don’t believe that’s a real big issue. I tend to try and run most of my babies without Lasix for their first couple of starts.”

As a result of being the only stakes winner in the field, Midnight Serenade must carry high weight of 122 pounds while conceding from five to seven pounds to his five foes in the Foolish Pleasure..

“Weight is always a concern for me,” said DiMauro. “Especially the further you go, the more it becomes a factor. There’s also not much pace in this field but that will pretty much put about everybody in the same boat so the best kick should win.”

The Foolish Pleasure is an intriguing race from a handicapping perspective. Midnight Serenade will face a group that includes Burning Time, runner-up in the Seacliff and the recipient of a seven-pound weight shift in his advantage for the rematch; Bartolome, a very impressive winner around two turns despite a slow start in his debut; Personal Interest, who stretches out off a pair of sprints and appears to be the controlling speed if he breaks cleanly; Mucho Mas Macho, a runaway maiden winner at a mile in his last start, and the stakes-placed maiden Kings Over.

◗ The 1 1/16-mile Judy’s Red Shoes lured a field of eight, led by Callmethesqueeze, Nasty Rumor,and Battle of Love. Each has won stakes here this summer and is versatile enough to handle turf or dirt should adverse weather conditions force the race to be switched to the main track.

◗ Frolic’s Revenge, another 2-year-old who is not Stallion Stakes-eligible, will be favored to handle seven rivals in the Brave Raj, filly counterpart to the Foolish Pleasure. Frolic’s Revenge drew off to an easy 4 3/4-length triumph over Sinister Brew when stretching out to a mile for the first time in the Lindsay Frolic on Aug. 27. Sinister Brew will be the recipient of an eight-pound weight shift in her favor when attempting to turn the tables on Frolic’s Revenge on Saturday.

◗ Turf or dirt, Manicero is the one to beat in the 1 1/16-mile Needles. Manicero was an easy five-length winner of the one-mile Needles four weeks ago and trainer Leo Azpurua Jr. has been dying to try the son of Mass Media on grass.

“He’s a half to a couple of turf stakes winners and it opens up a lot of avenues for us if he shows he can handle the grass as well as the dirt like I think he can,” said Azpurua.