Hard Spun spun out of the turn in Saturday's $500,000 Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park, right back into contention as a top Kentucky Derby prospect.
The Danzig colt, defeated for the first time in his last outing at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, was all business in the Lane's End, easily passing the leaders as the field entered the stretch and drawing clear to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Sedgefield. Joe Got Even finished third. Disappointments included the unlikely favorite, Twilight Meteor (sixth) and Forefathers (last of 12 after a rough trip).
Hard Spun, a Pennsylvania-bred colt, trained by Larry Jones, won his first three races easily on the East Coast, then equally easily won the LeCompte at Fair Grounds in his first graded stakes try. In the Southwest at Oaklawn, Jones said, he simply didn't like the track. For all that, the colt finished a credible fourth.
Saturday, Turfway's synthetic surface was no problem and neither was the competition. With Mario Pino up, Hard Spun finished the 9 furlongs in 1:49.41.
Jones said he is considering the Blue Grass at Keeneland as Hard Spun's next start. "My only concern," he added, "is that it could be suicide with so many good horses going in the race. ... I wouldn't be overly confident going into that race. But it's a good feeling to know our horse could compete with these horses."
-- Dominican, making his first start as a 3-year-old, scored equally impressively in the $100,000 Rushaway on the Lane's End undercard. After stalking the leaders until mid-stretch, the Kentucky-bred gelding by El Corredor swung out and blew past, winning off by 5 lengths. Trust Your Luck was second and Reata's Rocket third. Dominican finished the 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.50 with Rafael Bejarano up for trainer Darrin Miller. The late start to his sophomore campaign may be offset by the fact that in his last start as a 2-year-old, Dominican ran third behind Tiz Wonderful and Any Given Saturday in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs. "I was very impressed with his tenacity and professionalism off the layoff," said Miller. "He did that really easy."
-- It was only 1 mile and it wasn't a graded stakes effort. But, still, it's hard to ignore the performance of Etude in Saturday's $60,000 Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Park in Maryland. After stalking the pace, the Maryland-bred Include colt circled the leaders on the turn, went to the lead easily and won off by 5 3/4 lengths. He finished in 1:37.97, ridden out by jockey Luis Garcia. The gray colt now has three wins and three seconds from six lifetime starts. "Trainer Richard Small said the addition of blinkers "and his catching on sort of happened at the same time. We couldn't be more pleased with him. He's a beautiful, big horse with a real nice stride and a wonderful disposition."
Kentucky Oaks preps
-- Control System had the perfect trip in Saturday's $100,000 Cicada Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Aqueduct, saving ground behind the leaders until the turn, then swinging wide for room. With little urging from jockey Julien Pimentel, the Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Lion Hearted accelerated to score by 3 1/2 lengths from the early leader, Golden Dreamer. Special Dream was third. Control System finished the 6 furlongs in 1:10.43 in her first start outside Philadelphia Park. "Everything is happening kind of quick with her," said winning trainer Michael Trombletta. "My chore now is to sit down tomorrow and find the next spot for her. We may come back for the Comely" -- a 1-mile, Grade II event on April 11.
-- Sealy Hill came from off the pace to take a daylight lead early in the stretch run of Saturday's $150,000 Bourbonette Breeders' Cup at Turfway Park, then just held on to win by a head over the late-running Panty Raid. Aspiring was third and the favorite, Silverinyourpocket, finished fifth. Sealy Hill, an Ontario-bred miss by Point Given, ran 1 mile on the all-weather track in 1:37.51 with Patrick Husbands up for trainer Mark Casse. "She's better than you saw today," Casse said. "She's never been two turns before so she thought the race was all over. One thing about Turfway's Polytrack -- horses that like it do well on Derby Day."
In other weekend racing
Fourty Niners Son sat close behind a very slow pace in Saturday's $200,000 San Luis Rey Handicap, went to the lead entering the stretch and then held on well to win by 1 length over Notable Guest with Prospect Park third. The favorite, One Off, had an off day, finishing last of seven. Fourty Niners Son, a 6-year-old, Kentucky-bred horse by Distorted Humor, ran the 1 1/2 mile on firm turf in 2:27.50 with Garrett Gomez in the irons for trainer Neil Drysdale. "I didn't want to be head-and-head for the lead," Gomez said. "But when (pace-setter A.P. Xcellent) slowed it down like he did, I had no options. He was comfortable where we were. Turning for home, he laid his body down and he really went to running."
Citronnade, running on the lead, won Sunday's $150,000 Santa Ana Handicap in stakes-record time of 1:46.23, beating runner-up Conveyor's Angel by 5 1/4 lengths. Memorette fnished third. The 4-year-old filly, sired by Lemon Drop Kid, picked up her third consecutive win, including a 3-length win in the San Gorgonio Handicap on Jan. 7. "There was no speed in the race today," said winning rider David Flores. "So we put her on the lead, nice and easy. Then she put herself to sleep. She was confident and happy."
Maryfield, with Jorge Chavez up, was in traffic trouble on the inside as the field swung around the turn in Saturday's $150,000 Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap. But when the 6-year-old, Ontario-bred mare found room on the outside, she closed stoutly, caught pace-setting Candy Box and went on to win by 2 1/4 lengths over that rival. Oprah Winney finished third. Maryfield ran the 6 furlongs on a fast inner track in 1:09.73. "She drifted out just a little bit on the turn and I got into a little bit of trouble," Chavez said. "The other horses went a little too quick out of the gate and they stopped a little." Oddly, five of the seven starters were coming off a win -- and Maryfield was not among them. The Doug O'Neill trainee shipped in from California following a seventh-place finish in the Las Flores Handicap last month and hadn't won since last November at Churchill Downs.
Saint Anddan provided a mild upset in Saturday's $150,000 Duncan F. Kenner Breeders' Cup Stakes -- the highlight of Lagniappe Saturday at the New Orleans oval. Sent quickly after the lead, the 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of A.P. Indy got the advantage, opened up a nice margin heading into the stretch and held on to beat Venomous by a neck. Smoke Mountain was third and the favorite, Gaff, finished fourth. Saint Anddan ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.34 with Joseph Talamo up. "Once he goes to the front in sprint races, his heart doesn't stop," Talamo said of his mount.
Jazz Quest was an even longer-shot winner in the $100,000 Grindstone Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 mile on the turf. After stalking the pace set by Mayor Bozarth, the Illinois-bred son of Jambalaya Jazz ranged up alongside and won a long, hard duel to the wire by 1/2 length. Poschner finished third and the previously undefeated favorite, Corrupt, stopped badly and was eased to finish last of seven. Jesse Campbell rode the winner for trainer Richard Scherer. "Jazz Quest always seems to run up to his competition," Scherer said. "He's still learning. But the light is beginning to go on."
Mi Isabella surged to the lead nearing the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Crescent City Oaks for Louisiana-breds, easily got the advantage and ran off to win by 4 1/2 lengths over early leader Ms. Katherine B. Zarb's Ballerina finished third. Mi Isabella, a daughter of Twilight Agenda, ran the 1 1/16 mile in 1:45.18 under Jesse Campbell.
Perfect Harmony sang the right tune in Saturday's $100,000 Lagniappe Classic for state-breds, taking a four-wide trip into the stretch and winning off by 2 lengths over Liquid Silver. Nowandforevermore finished third. The favorite, Grand Minit, was a well-beaten fourth. Perfect Harmony, a 4-year-old son of Dance Brightly, got the 1 1/16 mile in 1:44.51 with Kerwin Clark aboard.
Raspberry Wine had almost the identical trip in the companion $100,000 Red Camelia Handicap for Louisiana-bred fillies and mares, drawing off to win by 2 lengths over Autobesarah. Intractable finished third. Raspberry Wine, a 5-year-old mare by Change Takes Time, took 1:44.12 with Robby Albarado handling the reins for trainer Al Stall Jr.
On Sunday, favorite Moonee Ponds won her third straight local race, capturing the $100,000 Bedanken Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, finishing the 1 1/16 mile over firm turf in 1:43.33. "Maybe she just likes crawfish," trainer Tom Proctor quipped about the filly's New Orleans dominance.
In Sunday's $100,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial Handicap for fillies and mares, J'ray romped to a 3 /2-length victory as the odds-on favorite. "She is pure class," said winning rider Robby Albarado. "She just overpowered these fillies."
Duveen ducked to the inside to get past traffic entering the stretch run of Saturday's $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes for 3-year-olds, the won a mad dash to the wire by a nose over the favorite, Soldier's Dancer. Storm in May finished third. Duveen, a Kentucky-bred colt by the South African stalwart Horse Chestnut, got the 1 1/8 mile on "good" turf in 1:47.48 with Mark Guidry riding for trainer Dale Romans. The colt broke his maiden in his last outing. On the turn, Guidry said: "We had a little traffic problem. I went to split horses and they came together. But he accelerated once we had a good, clear lane." Romans said Duveen may resurface in the Crown Royal on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs.
Sharp Susan went quickly to the lead in Sunday's $100,000 Herecomesthebride Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, rated patiently on the lead and had plenty left at the end, winning by 3 lengths over Communique. Perfect Motion finished third. Sharp Susan, a Touch Gold filly, ran the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:47.90. "We'll look for something in Kentucky next," said winning trainer Bill Mott. "There's a race for her on Derby weekend at Churchill."
Mary Delaney set the pace in Saturday's $50,000 Queen Stakes for fillies and mares, opened the margin when asked and then held on well despite drifting out in the final furlong, winning by 3 3/4 lengths over Hot Storm. New Dimension finished third. Mary Delaney, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Hennessey, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.28 for jockey Edgar Prado.
Awesome Hero, with Julien Leparoux up, struggled to find racing room turning for home in Saturday's $50,000 Hansel Stakes for 3-year-olds. But once he got through, the Florida-bred son of Awesome Again battled gamely to the wire, beating Mr. Goodkat by a head. Weather Warning was just another nose back in third as the favorite. Awesome Hero ran the 6 furlongs in 1:10.66.
Charm the Giant was caught behind a wall of horses at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $50,000 Hillsborough Handicap for fillies and mares, had to maneuver around them and still got up in time to win by a head over Strong Faith. Somethinaboutlaura finished third. Charm the Giant, a 5-year-old, Irish-bred mare by Giant's Causeway, ran 1 1/16 mile on "good" turf in 1:45.60 with Frank Alvarado in the irons for trainer Ron McAnally.
Junior College got the "A" in Saturday's $50,000 Hot Springs Stakes, rallying from a pace-stalking position to win by 3/4 length over Semaphore Man. Four Sevens got home third. Junior College, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Ide, ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.05 under John Jacinto.
Hawthorne Race Course
Awesomewithbroads sat in mid-pack through the early furlongs of Saturday's $45,000 Honey Mark Stakes, moved to duel with Holy City in the stretch and won by 1 1/2 lengths over that rival. Air Academy finished third. Awesomewithbroads, a 5-year-old gelding and son of Awesome Again, ran the 1 1/16 mile on a "good" main track in 1:45.63. E.T. Baird rode for trainer Michele Boyce.
Peppers Pride rallied from a pace-stalking trip to win Saturday's $100,000 Sydney Valentini Handicap for state-bred fillies and mares by 1 1/4 lengths over La Mamie. Skirt Alert finished third. Peppers Pride, a 4-year-old daughter of Desert God, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:38.42 with Carlos Madeira aboard.
Part Timer came from last of eight to win Saturday's $45,000 Tempe Handicap for 3-year-olds by 1 length over Organ Pipe. Capt. Joe Blow finished third. Part Timer, an Irish-bred colt by Mujadil, ran the "about" 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.20 with Chris Landeros up for trainer Jeffrey Metz.