10/27/2008 11:00PM

Midnight Lute retired; to stand for $20K

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Champion sprinter Midnight Lute, the only horse to win back-to-back runnings of the Breeders' Cup Sprint, has been retired to Hill 'n' Dale Farm in Kentucky.

The 5-year-old Real Quiet horse will stand for $20,000 in 2009.

Named champion sprinter after his 2007 Breeders' Cup victory, Midnight Lute leaves racing with earnings of $2,690,600 and wins in 6 of 13 starts. Four of those victories came in stakes. In addition to his consecutive Sprint wins, he also won the Grade 1 Forego and Grade 3 Perryville stakes, posting a 124 Beyer Speed Figure in the former race. He placed in three other graded stakes: the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap and Malibu Stakes and the Grade 2 San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes.

Midnight Lute won the 2008 Breeders' Cup Sprint in stakes-record time of 1:07.08 for six furlongs, breaking Kona Gold's record of 1:07.77.

Tom Evans, Macon Wilmil Equines, and Marjac Farms bred Midnight Lute from the unraced Dehere mare Candytuft, and he is a half-brother to stakes-placed Tusculum Road. Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Weitman Performances campaigned Midnight Lute.

Midnight Lute will be available for viewing at Hill 'n' Dale from Oct. 31.

Darley reduces most stallion fees

As expected, a number of major stallion operations in Kentucky are trimming fees for their stallions after slower 2008 yearling sales and an economy in recession.

Darley America in Kentucky revealed Tuesday that it will cut fees for all but three of its stallions in 2009. The three whose fees will not drop are Street Cry, who rises from $100,000 to $150,000; Elusive Quality, who remains the same at $75,000; and E Dubai, who also is unchanged at $15,000. All three had winners at the Breeders' Cup. Street Cry is sire of undefeated Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic winner Zenyatta, while Elusive Quality's son Raven's Pass won the Classic, and E Dubai is the sire of Desert Code, who took the Turf Sprint.

Darley America's other stallions will all have lower fees in 2009. Their new fees are as follows: Bernardini, $75,000; Street Sense, $60,000; Hard Spun, $40,000; Any Given Saturday, $30,000; Henny Hughes, $30,000; Discreet Cat, $25,000; Cherokee Run, $25,000; Consolidator, $15,000; Rockport Harbor, $15,000; Quiet American, $15,000; Holy Bull, $10,000; and Offlee Wild, $7,500.

In related news, Darley has retired Street Cry's Grade 1-winning son Street Boss and will stand him for $25,000.

Also on Tuesday, WinStar Farm announced it will trim Distorted Humor's fee from $300,000 to $225,000 in 2009. That reflects what WinStar termed "the market adjustment" of falling yearling prices.

The 15-year-old Forty Niner horse is the sire of such Grade 1 winners as Commentator and Hystericalady, both of whom are graded stakes winners this year, and dual classic winner Funny Cide. His yearling sale average and median this year were $416,396 and $385,000, respectively, according to SireAverages.com.

"Distorted Humor is in his prime and is one of the few stallions that can consistently command seven figures for a yearling year after year," WinStar president Doug Cauthen said. "This fee acknowledges the market adjustment and we now feel his 2009 fee is right on the money for both our shareholders and breeders."

Distorted Humor is a son of the Grade 2-winning and Grade 1-placed Danzig mare Danzig's Beauty.

* Multiple graded winner Zavata will relocate from Walmac Farm in Kentucky to Pin Oak Lane Farm in New Freedom, Pa., in 2009. The 8-year-old son of Phone Trick stood for $5,000 this year; his 2009 fee hasn't been announced. From two crops of racing age, Zavata has sired stakes performers Dakota Phone, Secret Talent, and Almendrado among his 31 winners. Zavata is out of the Cox's Ridge mare Pert Lady.

* Heiligbrodt Racing's two-time Grade 3 winner Gaff has retired from the track and will stand at Journeyman Stud in Ocala, Fla. The 6-year-old Maria's Mon horse retires with earnings of $569,513 from wins in 8 of 23 starts, including five stakes wins and four wins on turf. Gaff is a son of the Tunerup mare Ionlyhaveeyesforu. The farm will announce his fee later.

* Capitano, a multiple-stakes-winning son of Belong to Me, has retired to stud at Fox Tale Stud in Coopersburg, Pa. He will stand for $2,500, or $1,500 for mares who will produce a registered Pennsylvania-bred foal. Capitano, 7, is out of the Tabasco Cat mare Heavenly Cat, making him a half-brother to Grade 3 winner Heavenly Ransom and stakes winner Dilemma.