Hard Spun Ready to Run in Preakness

STANTON, Del. (AP) - Hard Spun has unusually long legs and a
sleek body, leading trainer Larry Jones to initially dismiss the
horse's chances as a Triple Crown contender.
Much to his delight, Jones was way off the mark.
"The most amazing thing we found is ... just how fast this
horse is," he recalled Tuesday. "It was kind of a shock. I
wondered if he would be able to go long at all, but every race we
stretched the distance, his numbers have gotten better."
Racing 1¼ miles for the first time on May 5, Hard Spun finished
second in the Kentucky Derby, his first Grade 1 test. Now, to the
dismay of owner Rick Porter, Hard Spun is considered one of the
favorites in Saturday's Preakness.
"The only thing that worries me is everyone's too high on the
horse, thinking that everything's setting up perfectly for him in
the Preakness," Porter said. "We have a lot of work to do to win
this race. We've got some good horses to beat. That's what worries
me because I like to be the underdog."
If he were to be judged on his personality, Hard Spun might be
considered a long shot. If it were up to Hard Spun, he'd probably
be walking on a worn path with a stranger on his back.
"He's just an extremely nice horse. There's not an aggressive
bone in his body," Jones said. "The other riders that see us,
they say, 'That's Hard Spun?' They can't believe it. I told them,
in his next career, he thinks he's going to be a trail-riding
horse. He's almost people!"
Hard Spun has had very little time to socialize this week while
nestled in Stall 50 of Barn 8 at Delaware Park. Given the attention
he received before the Derby, a little quiet time is probably a
good thing.
"The only time he's in a bad mood is from 11 o'clock to 3
o'clock, when it's his nap time and people won't leave him alone,"
Jones said. "Other than that, you can take him on a picnic with
you and he'll be happy."
Jockey Mario Pino derives the most pleasure from guiding Hard
Spun around the track. Pino has been aboard nearly 6,000 winners
during his 29-year career, yet no horse has impressed him as much
as Hard Spun.
Pino got a sense of the colt's potential last fall on the
practice track. Then, in the horse's debut last October, Hard Spun
cruised to an impressive win over 5½ furlongs at Delaware Park.
"His first time out, it was awesome. I remember thinking I've
never been on a horse that felt like this," Pino said. "I called
my wife right after the race and said, 'If ever there's a Derby
horse, this is him."'
Riding in his first Kentucky Derby, Pino led for much of the
race before Street Sense roared from behind to win. In the rematch,
Pino will have the advantage of riding on a track he knows
intimately aboard a horse showing no ill effects from a solid
showing at Churchill Downs.
"Mario knows his way around Pimilco, there's no doubt about
that," Jones said. "And speedsters normally have a better chance
in the Preakness than the Derby. But this race is going to set up
differently."
"In the Derby, we somewhat caught them off guard with the
quality of our horse. I think a lot of people thought, well, he's
fast but he's never faced anything so we'll run by him when we're
ready," he added. "I think we got the attention of about 18 of
those horses."
Now, they know. And just about anyone who follows horse racing
knows that Hard Spun can flat-out run - regardless of the
competition.
"I think that's probably going to be the biggest disadvantage
for us, that we've earned some of the other jock's and horse's
respect," Jones said.
Hard Spun has made enough of an impression that Porter is
already preparing to sell the horse to stud.
"I've been talking to people. He obviously is not going to be
sold as a racehorse," Porter said. "At some point I will sell his
breeding rights."
The price for those rights surely would have been higher if
Calvin Borel didn't get a perfect ride aboard Street Sense. Jones
was still lamenting the loss Tuesday while looking toward the next
two Triple Crown races.
"If we can win the Preakness, and we can win the Belmont," he
said, "how sick are we going to be about the riders not closing
the hole on Calvin?"

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Much to his delight, Jones was way off the mark.
"The most amazing thing we found is ... just how fast this
horse is," he recalled Tuesday. "It was kind of a shock. I
wondered if he would be able to go long at all, but every race we
stretched the distance, his numbers have gotten better."
Racing 1¼ miles for the first time on May 5, Hard Spun finished
second in the Kentucky Derby, his first Grade 1 test. Now, to the
dismay of owner Rick Porter, Hard Spun is considered one of the
favorites in Saturday's Preakness.
"The only thing that worries me is everyone's too high on the
horse, thinking that everything's setting up perfectly for him in
the Preakness," Porter said. "We have a lot of work to do to win
this race. We've got some good horses to beat. That's what worries
me because I like to be the underdog."
If he were to be judged on his personality, Hard Spun might be
considered a long shot. If it were up to Hard Spun, he'd probably
be walking on a worn path with a stranger on his back.
"He's just an extremely nice horse. There's not an aggressive
bone in his body," Jones said. "The other riders that see us,
they say, 'That's Hard Spun?' They can't believe it. I told them,
in his next career, he thinks he's going to be a trail-riding
horse. He's almost people!"
Hard Spun has had very little time to socialize this week while
nestled in Stall 50 of Barn 8 at Delaware Park. Given the attention
he received before the Derby, a little quiet time is probably a
good thing.
"The only time he's in a bad mood is from 11 o'clock to 3
o'clock, when it's his nap time and people won't leave him alone,"
Jones said. "Other than that, you can take him on a picnic with
you and he'll be happy."
Jockey Mario Pino derives the most pleasure from guiding Hard
Spun around the track. Pino has been aboard nearly 6,000 winners
during his 29-year career, yet no horse has impressed him as much
as Hard Spun.
Pino got a sense of the colt's potential last fall on the
practice track. Then, in the horse's debut last October, Hard Spun
cruised to an impressive win over 5½ furlongs at Delaware Park.
"His first time out, it was awesome. I remember thinking I've
never been on a horse that felt like this," Pino said. "I called
my wife right after the race and said, 'If ever there's a Derby
horse, this is him."'
Riding in his first Kentucky Derby, Pino led for much of the
race before Street Sense roared from behind to win. In the rematch,
Pino will have the advantage of riding on a track he knows
intimately aboard a horse showing no ill effects from a solid
showing at Churchill Downs.
"Mario knows his way around Pimilco, there's no doubt about
that," Jones said. "And speedsters normally have a better chance
in the Preakness than the Derby. But this race is going to set up
differently."
"In the Derby, we somewhat caught them off guard with the
quality of our horse. I think a lot of people thought, well, he's
fast but he's never faced anything so we'll run by him when we're
ready," he added. "I think we got the attention of about 18 of
those horses."
Now, they know. And just about anyone who follows horse racing
knows that Hard Spun can flat-out run - regardless of the
competition.
"I think that's probably going to be the biggest disadvantage
for us, that we've earned some of the other jock's and horse's
respect," Jones said.
Hard Spun has made enough of an impression that Porter is
already preparing to sell the horse to stud.
"I've been talking to people. He obviously is not going to be
sold as a racehorse," Porter said. "At some point I will sell his
breeding rights."
The price for those rights surely would have been higher if
Calvin Borel didn't get a perfect ride aboard Street Sense. Jones
was still lamenting the loss Tuesday while looking toward the next
two Triple Crown races.
"If we can win the Preakness, and we can win the Belmont," he
said, "how sick are we going to be about the riders not closing
the hole on Calvin?"

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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