11/02/2007 12:00AM

Midnight Lute targets longer races

EmailARCADIA, Calif. - Midnight Lute, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Monmouth Park on Oct. 27, will not be starting in sprints for the foreseeable future.

Trainer Bob Baffert said on Friday that Midnight Lute is on course for the $300,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 24 and that the $6 million Dubai World Cup at 1 1/4 miles on March 29 has become a possible target in 2008.

Baffert said that Midnight Lute has trained well in recent days, making the Cigar Mile a likely destination for the 4-year-old colt, who is owned by Mike Pegram, Carl Watson, and Paul Weitman.

"The way he trained today, he looked good," Baffert said. "The Cigar Mile is something that he should be able to handle."

A winner of 5 of 10 starts and $1,550,600, Midnight Lute has never won beyond seven furlongs. Last winter at Santa Anita, he was second by a nose in the Grade 2 San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes at 1 1/16 miles and was fourth after a wide trip in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.

Since those races, he has had surgery to correct a breathing problem.

Baffert has won the Dubai World Cup twice - with Silver Charm in 1998 and Captain Steve in 2001.

Baffert said the $2 million Golden Shaheen at six furlongs in Dubai did not appeal to him for Midnight Lute, and that if he went to Dubai, he would go for the World Cup.

"I won't go for $2 million," he said.

Comparing Midnight Lute to Captain Steve, Baffert said, "They aren't in the same area code. Captain Steve was a nice horse, but he's not this kind of horse. Midnight Lute is getting better and better."

The Tin Man slowly recovering

The Tin Man continues to show progress from a fractured knee suffered while recovering from ankle surgery in late October, but trainer Richard Mandella said that the 9-year-old gelding will need at least two months of stall rest before he will be able to move freely.

The injury occurred as The Tin Man was awakening from anesthesia from an exploratory arthroscopic procedure on Oct. 25. A winner of 13 of 31 starts and $3,663,780, The Tin Man is being confined to his stall in Mandella's Santa Anita stable.

"He's not in any great soreness standing there," Mandella said. "We can't let him move around. It could do more damage. I'd say he'd have to be here for two months. Then we could start letting him move around.

"It's not like a person where we can say, 'Put this arm in a sling.' He's standing on all four pretty good. He's not favoring the bad leg. I don't think we could expect him to be doing any better than he's doing."

Veterinarian Jeff Blea, who has attended to The Tin Man, called the gelding "a good patient."

"What we have to worry about is laminitis, pneumonia, and colic," Blea said. "Every day, I'm a little more optimistic. You hold your breath that his feet aren't heating up and he hasn't spiked a temperature."

Owned by Ralph and Aury Todd, The Tin Man had one victory in a four-race campaign this year, the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park in May. Mandella was hoping The Tin Man could return to racing at 10 next year, but he has been retired.

Ancient Tale euthanized after work

Ancient Tale, a 3-year-old maiden filly, was euthanized on Friday after suffering serious injuries during a morning workout at Santa Anita.

She is the 11th horse to be euthanized at Santa Anita as a result of injuries suffered during races or workouts since Sept. 24, the first week of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

There have been five horses euthanized as a result of injuries suffered during morning training, and six that were fatally injured while racing. Of the six, four were racing on turf.

The current Oak Tree meeting is the first race meeting at Santa Anita run on a Cushion Track synthetic surface on the main track.

Ancient Tale, trained by Kathy Walsh, was winless in four starts for owners Tom and Elizabeth Baxter.

The injuries have the full attention of track officials.

"We still think the track is good," said track president Ron Charles. "We're doing everything we can to make it better. It seems there have been some injuries. Trainers have pointed out that the response has been very positive."

Bejarano, Leparoux to go west

Jockeys Rafael Bejarano and Julien Leparoux are expected to begin riding full time in California in November. Both jockeys are currently riding at Churchill Downs.

Bejarano is scheduled to begin riding at Hollywood Park on Nov. 21. He has ridden sparingly in California in the past, but did win six races in one day at Santa Anita in April 2006.

"My agent and I had a decision, and we're happy to come to California because we have an opportunity to ride for Bobby Frankel," Bejarano said. "I'm happy to come to California because I want the opportunity."

Frankel said Bejarano will have his full support. "I don't like looking for jockeys all the time," Frankel said.

Leparoux, the champion apprentice jockey of 2006, will begin riding in Southern California in late November, according to his agent, Steve Bass.

Leparoux is tentatively scheduled to ride Lady of Venice in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 25, Bass said.

"He's decided this is what he wants to do and he wants to see what happens," Bass said.

Last winter, Leparoux rode primarily at Turfway Park at the insistence of trainer Patrick Biancone and made occasional trips to Southern California on weekends.

Biancone is serving a one-year suspension issued by Kentucky officials last month.

Three stakes kick off Hollywood

Hollywood Park has three stakes scheduled for the opening week of its fall meeting, which begins on Wednesday and continues through Dec. 22.

The most lucrative race of the first week is Sunday's $100,000 Moccasin Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at seven furlongs. The stakes winners Treadmill and Golden Doc A are among the 13 nominees.