09/17/2008 11:00PM

Midnight Lute on the mend; targets BC Sprint


ARCADIA, Calif. - Midnight Lute, the champion sprinter of 2007, is still recovering from a hoof injury suffered in the Pat O'Brien Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 24 and will make his next start in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, trainer Bob Baffert said.

Baffert said Midnight Lute has resumed normal training but will not start in the $250,000 Ancient Title Stakes over six furlongs at Santa Anita on Sept. 27. Baffert said there is sufficient time to prepare Midnight Lute for the BC Sprint.

"I can get him ready," Baffert said. "At least, he'll have a race under his belt, so to speak."

Midnight Lute finished 10th in the Pat O'Brien and grabbed a quarter at the start.

"I've got to let it grow out," Baffert said.

Owned by a partnership, Midnight Lute has won 5 of 12 starts and $1,610,600. He won the 2007 sprint championship on the basis of two major stakes wins - the Grade 1 Forego Handicap at Saratoga and the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Monmouth Park.

Midnight Lute was plagued by minor ailments earlier this year that prevented him from starting in the winter and spring.

Dash Dot Dash sweeps juvenile stakes

Dash Dot Dash ($5.60) completed a sweep of the stakes for 2-year-old fillies at the Los Angeles County Fair meeting, with a front-running win in Wednesday's $63,050 Black Swan Stakes at Fairplex Park.

Ridden by leading jockey Martin Pedroza, Dash Dot Dash repelled a challenge from 4-5 favorite Grey Chatelaine through the first six furlongs and held off stablemate Vikkilee in the stretch to win by a length. The first two finishers are trained by Vladimir Cerin.

Dash Dot Dash, by Put it Back, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.73. She won the Bustles and Bows Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs earlier at the meeting for owners Southern Comfort Stables.

"We'll probably find another small stakes for her," Cerin said.

Cerin was equally delighted by the second-place finish of Vikkilee, who is owned by David and Holly Wilson.

"Now she's stakes-placed and she can break her maiden at Santa Anita," he said.

Douglas to ride at Oak Tree meet

Rene Douglas, the leading rider at the current Arlington Park meeting, will ride at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, effective Wednesday, according to his new agent, Tom Knust.

Douglas has been the dominant rider at Arlington Park this summer. Through Monday, he had a 34-race lead in the jockey standings. Douglas was a regular rider in Southern California in the late 1990s and earlier this decade.

"He thinks California is the place to be," Knust said. "He'll be here through the winter."

Gambler's Justice seeks stakes win

Nearly five months after she was disqualified from first to third in the $200,000 Melair Stakes at Hollywood Park, Gambler's Justice can finally win the first stakes of her career in Saturday's $65,000 CTBA Marian Stakes at Fairplex Park.

Trained by Bill Spawr, Gambler's Justice is one of eight statebred 3-year-old fillies in the CTBA Marian Stakes, run over 1 1/16 miles.

The Melair Stakes, in which Gambler's Justice was ruled to have bumped a rival and caused interference in the stretch, was the last time that the filly finished first. She later finished fifth in the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks and Fleet Treat Stakes and was third in an optional $40,000 claimer at Del Mar on Aug. 13, her most recent start.

None of the Marian Stakes entrants won their last starts, but Spinning Yarns came close at Hollywood Park in June, finishing second in a $50,000 claimer. Trained by Paco Gonzalez for John and Cheryl Toffan, Spinning Yarns was fifth in an optional $25,000 claimer at Del Mar on July 17. She is likely to be part of the pace.

CHRB delays action on racing dates

The California Horse Racing Board did not take action on racing dates for 2009 at its monthly meeting Thursday, but did say it would hold a meeting in coming weeks to further discuss the issue. No date for the meeting was finalized.

One element of that discussion will be a possible reduction of racing dates per week on the Northern California fair circuit during summer and fall of 2009, chairman Richard Shapiro said.

"We have fewer horses, and our field size is an issue," Shapiro said. "In Northern California, we should look to not have six days a week of racing, but to have five, and four in some cases. We need to get field size up and get interest up in the product."

Vice chairman John Harris said a cut in racing days per week needs to be explored.

"We need to increase the purse per race," he said. "I think going to four days a week could help that. I think we have to stay ahead of the curve and stay ahead of the crisis."