10/17/2008 12:00AM

La Tee's foot trouble a thing of past


ARCADIA, Calif. - The tender-footed La Tee was destined for a modest career as an obscure allowance filly until trainer Mark Glatt dared tradition by allowing her to go barefoot in summer.

"I'm kind of old-school, and never trained a horse without shoes. She's the first one," Glatt said. "You can get away with it on these synthetic tracks."

Two months after her shoes were pulled off, La Tee's transformation to graded-stakes-caliber sprinter is nearly complete. Friday, she will enter the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint as a 30-1 longshot with a fighting chance against Indian Blessing and Ventura.

Win or lose, La Tee will run free from one persistent problem.

"She's had feet issues her whole career," Glatt said. "We tried this, we tried that, and never could get her 100 percent. She can't take the pressure of a shoe, they beat her feet up."

In early August at Del Mar, after a dull second in a low-rated restricted stakes for filly sprinters, Glatt's farrier said about training with filly shoeless, "Why don't we give it a try?"

They didn't have much to lose. La Tee trained barefoot for three weeks. Shoes were reapplied Aug. 24, the morning of the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo, and produced the best sprint of her career - third by 1 1/2 lengths with an uneasy trip on the rail. By the next day, La Tee was shoeless again.

"She's okay to run in them, it's the day-to-day push-push-push pressure," Glatt said. "Now, her feet are growing much better, and she is a lot more comfortable."

Although a shoeless La Tee trained well on Polytrack at Del Mar, it was not until she returned to Santa Anita and started training on the new Pro-Ride surface that Glatt and owners Allen and Susan Branch noticed dramatic improvement.

"She has trained exceptionally well over this synthetic," Glatt said. "She didn't train like this at Del Mar."

La Tee had new shoes applied Oct. 4 and finished second in a Grade 3 turf sprint, the Ken Maddy. The next day, her shoes were off and stayed that way. Friday morning at Santa Anita, La Tee worked a barefoot five furlongs in company under Gary Stevens. Her clocking, 59.40 seconds, was the third-fastest of the day.

La Tee, a Washington-bred daughter of Broken Vow, has won 3 races and $180,581 from 11 starts, and Glatt recognizes his filly is up against it in the Filly and Mare Sprint.

"She always tries hard, and sometimes the big shots don't show up," Glatt said."

And if La Tee does win the ungraded Filly and Mare Sprint, her 12-race record will be absent only one key achievement - she will have not yet won a graded stakes.

That is fine with Glatt.

"It will still say Breeders' Cup."