11/28/2007 12:00AM

Midnight Lute to rest up, skip Dubai

EmailINGLEWOOD, Calif. - Midnight Lute has earned a lengthy vacation after his second-place finish in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct last weekend. His next major goal will be a return trip to New York for the Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park in late May, trainer Bob Baffert said on Wednesday.

The winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27, Midnight Lute finished 2 1/2 lengths behind the 3-year-old Daaher in the Cigar Mile. Midnight Lute was within 1 1/2 lengths of Daaher on the final turn but could not get any closer.

"I had to take a shot," Baffert said. "It was a nice horse that beat him. We learned from that race. I think he likes more time between races. He didn't have that ferocious kick."

Owned by Mike Pegram, Paul Weitman, and Karl Watson, Midnight Lute has won 5 of 11 starts and $1,610,600. Before the Breeders' Cup, Midnight Lute won his first Grade 1 in the seven-furlong Forego Stakes at Saratoga on Sept. 1.

After the BC Sprint, Baffert mentioned the possibility of sending Midnight Lute to Dubai for the $6 million Dubai World Cup in March, but he said on Wednesday that those plans were no longer an option.

"He won't go to Dubai," he said. "I'll just run him here. I'd like to run him in the Met Mile, that's the long-range race for him. He's been good to us and we'll freshen him up."

If Midnight Lute runs in the first half of the upcoming Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, one possibility is the $150,000 San Carlos Handicap at seven furlongs on Feb. 16.

Santa Anita to test track's drainage

Santa Anita will close its main track for training from Monday through Dec. 10 to conduct tests on the synthetic track's drainage system, track officials said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, Santa Anita president Ron Charles said the surface was not draining properly and would require a thorough inspection.

Track officials have been concerned about drainage issues since a late September rainstorm struck the track. In recent weeks, officials have conducted tests by extensively soaking the course to check on drainage capabilities. The tests focused on areas near the finish line and quarter pole.

Southern California has had minimal rain this fall, but there is widespread fear among track officials that the Cushion Track surface will not be able to withstand winter rainstorms. The course was installed last summer and used for the first time for racing during the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting this fall.

During the upcoming inspection, the course will be stripped of its synthetic material down to its foundation, according to a track statement.

"We are just not satisfied that our racing surface is ready for the winter weather," Charles said in a statement. "We just feel we owe it to the horsemen to do everything we can to make sure the drainage system we have provides the same consistent surface we all expected and were guaranteed. Right now, I just don't think we're there. We are looking to Cushion Track to provide the ultimate answer to this problem."

Santa Anita's winter-spring meeting begins on Dec. 26.

During the week without main-track training, Santa Anita's infield training track will remain open for extended hours.

Lightly raced Furioso Star reappears

Furioso Star ran like he was a little brother to the multiple stakes winner Bordonaro when he beat maidens convincingly at Santa Anita last January. His next start at Del Mar did not flatter the bloodlines.

Furioso Star finished eighth as the favorite in an optional claimer for statebreds on July 21, emerging from the race with a lung infection, trainer Bill Spawr said.

In Friday's seventh race at Hollywood Park, Furioso Star, 4, makes just his fourth start in a career that began in June 2006.

"I hope he goes forward," Spawr said. "He's in good shape."

Spawr said that Furioso Star, a gelding, did not handle the Polytrack surface at Del Mar.

"He had a lung infection," Spawr said. "Was it the track or that? It was probably 50-50. The jockey said he was slipping and wasn't getting a hold of it."

Richard Migliore, who was aboard for the maiden win and the loss at Del Mar, retains the mount.

Furioso Star will be near the front, but is not a one-dimensional runner. He could easily track River Echo, who was second in a race at this level on Nov. 9, and Rudeamenie, who won a starter allowance in his last start.

Lead Stealer is a danger from off the pace in the six-furlong race. Trained by William Morey, Lead Stealer was third in the California Cup Starter Sprint Handicap at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.

Bordonaro to return in January

Furioso Star is owned by breeders Fred Carrillo and Daniel Cassella, who bred and own Bordonaro. A 6-year-old gelding, Bordonaro finished sixth behind Midnight Lute in the BC Sprint, his fifth consecutive loss. Bordonaro's last victory came in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park in April, a race he also won in 2006.

Spawr said that Bordonaro is nearing a workout in coming days and will be pointed for the $100,000 El Conejo Handicap at 5 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita on Jan. 1, and/or the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint for California-breds and Florida-breds at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26.

"We'll look at both and see what shape he's in at the time," Spawr said.

Seven enter Saturday's Bayakoa

Led by the Grade 1 winners Romance Is Diane, Sugar Shake, and Tough Tiz's Sis, seven fillies and mares have been entered for Saturday's $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap, a Grade 2 race at 1 1/16 miles.

The co-highweights at 120 pounds are the 3-year-old Tough Tiz's Sis, who won the Grade 1 Lady's Secret Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 7, and the 4-year-old Sugar Shake, the winner of the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita last February.