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This is the 15th in a series of notes and impressions about the new stallions in Kentucky for 2009. The horses will be reviewed alphabetically.

Midnight Lute (2003 dark brown by Real Quiet out of Candytuft, by Dehere)

Stands at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm for $20,000 live foal

A giant of a horse, Midnight Lute had ability to match. Co-breeder Tom Evans once observed that “when this horse is right, I don’t think there’s anything that can outfinish him.” And as a winner of two Breeders’ Cup Sprints, Midnight Lute proved his breeder right.

Well sold for $70,000 as a yearling when his sire’s stock was near bottom in commercial appreciation, that fact alone tells us a great deal about the physical attractiveness and conformational quality of this dark brown horse.

A tall and brawny animal, Midnight Lute stands 17 hands and has length and depth in proportion. He is an individual who is a worthy representative of his famed grandsire Dehere, whom he resembles in many respects, aside from size.

And although Midnight Lute showed his best form sprinting, where he won three times at G1 level and earned some extraordinary speed figures, the horse had the physical scope and natural ability to go two turns as well.

As a result, any breeder who avoids sending this stallion a fast mare because of a fear of getting only a sprinter is likely shooting himself in the foot.

There should be little physical reason to limit his offspring’s distance capacity, and there will surely be some big ones in the mix. Midnight Lute girths 79 inches and has bone below the knee of 9 inches. Both of those figures are well in line with the type found among the offspring of the Fappiano line, which is a major consideration in making matings for this horse. In my judgment, proper evaluation of the overall male-line influence is even more important than assessing the impact of Midnight Lute’s sire, Real Quiet, a winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness who lost the Belmont and the Triple Crown by only a nose.

This is the male line of Fappiano (also sire of Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled) and Real Quiet’s sire Quiet American, who is a good-sized, rugged horse who gives his progeny a strong aptitude for middle-distance racing.

This is a line of horses with robust character, and Midnight Lute needed that determination because he survived throat operations for wind trouble that proved more of a limitation on his performance than any perceived lack of stamina, and he needed to be courageous to produce his best effort while racing when there surely was some level of discomfort.