- Hard Spun still has to answer the question of class after his classy win in the Lane's End at Turfway on Saturday. He beat an interesting field, but one whose quality remains to be seen, especially if you figure that betting favorite Twilight Meteor wants grass, and that stone-cold-dead-on-the-board Forefathers wants no part of nine furlongs.
But Hard Spun made an excellent case for trainer Larry Jones' contention that he just didn't care for Oaklawn. Plus he proved he's not just a sprinter, and showed that he can rate and finish strongly...this despite being three wide on both turns. Jockey Mario Pino left for position from the ten post and was third, in close stalking position in a quick first quarter of 22.78. “I knew I had a ton of horse from the moment he came out of the gate." He maintained that position through a second quarter of 24.48 and 24.38, before dragging Pino to the front turning for home, and getting home in 37.79 for the last three-eighths; 12.68 for the last furlong without being pushed hard.
Hard Spun is now four for five, but has never faced any of the top tier contenders. He will certainly do so in the Blue Grass, the race designated as his final prep; if, that is, Jones doesn't chicken out.
“… My only concern about the Blue Grass is that it could be suicide with so many good horses [Street Sense, Any Given Saturday, Great Hunter] going in the race,” said Jones, who called New York’s Wood Memorial in two weeks an outside possibility instead of the Keeneland race. “I wouldn’t be overly confident going into that race. But it’s a good feeling to know our horse could compete with those horses.” [Louisville Courier-Journal}Of course, the Wood may not be a piece of cake either, with Nobiz Like Shobiz and Circular Quay scheduled to run. And I don't know if Jones is going to be anxious to leave the friendly confines of Polytrack with the horse doing so well on it. Besides, the common wisdom is that Street Sense and Any Given Saturday are not going to be cranked for another grueling effort just three weeks before the Derby. But either way, Hard Spun will only have to finish close enough to show that he belongs.