06/15/2011 3:25PM

Hollywood Park: Midnight Interlude trying grass

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Barbara D. Livingston
Midnight Interlude finished 16th in the Kentucky Derby and 13th in the Preakness.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Maybe a change of surface will revive Midnight Interlude’s season.

After winning the Santa Antia Derby in an upset on April 9, Midnight Interlude was a bust in the first two legs of the Triple Crown, finishing 16th in the Kentucky Derby and 13th in the Preakness Stakes.

Owner Arnold Zetcher and trainer Bob Baffert skipped the Belmont Stakes, and brought Midnight Interlude back to California. Friday evening at Hollywood Park, Midnight Interlude makes his turf debut in the $70,000 Tsunami Slew Stakes over a mile.

The Tsunami Slew is not an easy spot. The race has drawn seven horses and features two turf stakes winners – Surrey Star (La Puente Stakes at Santa Anita) and Extensive (Florida Cup Sophomore Turf at Tampa Bay Downs) – and the sharp recent allowance race winners War Pilot and Temple’s Door, who is unbeaten in two starts.

Midnight Interlude, a winner of 2 of 6 starts and $649,680, will race without blinkers for the first time.

“I’m trying to get him to relax and come from off the pace a little bit,” Baffert said on Wednesday from his base at Santa Anita. “Maybe he’s got one move in him. We’ll see what he does.

“He’s always trained well, but in his last races he didn’t run. I don’t know what his problem was. We’ll try turf and if he likes turf, there is good turf racing.”

The upcoming Del Mar meeting emphasizes turf racing for 3-year-olds, with three stakes. Midnight Interlude is eligible for the last two races in the series – the $150,000 La Jolla Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on Aug. 13 and the $250,000 Del Mar Derby over 1 1/8 miles on Sept. 4. Midnight Interlude is not eligible for the first stakes, the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes on July 20, which is restricted to horses who have not won a stakes worth $50,000 to the winner this year.

Surrey Star is also not eligible for the Oceanside because he earned $60,000 in the La Puente. He later finished sixth in the American Turf Stakes at Churchill Dow ns on May 6. Extensive was third in the Arlington Classic on May 28.

The Tsunami Slew is the lone turf stakes for 3-year-olds around two turns at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting after the Will Rogers Stakes and Cinema Handicap were removed from the stakes schedule in recent years.