01/17/2008 12:00AM

Midnight Lute's '08 debut put off


Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Midnight Lute will skip the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap on Monday and make his 2008 debut Feb. 16 in the Grade 2, seven-furlong San Carlos Handicap, trainer Bob Baffert said late Thursday afternoon.

"He would have to gut it out going 6 1/2 furlongs, and I don't think he's ready for it," Baffert said. "He worked so good last week that I got excited. But it's a long year, and I don't want to get ahead of myself. We'll stick to our original plan."

Favored to win the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter of 2007, Midnight Lute won 2 of 6 races last year, including a blowout win in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga in which he earned a 124 Beyer Speed Figure, followed by a come-from-behind win in the BC Sprint.

A 5-year-old sired by Real Quiet, Midnight Lute has won five races and $1.6 million from 11 starts.