Hard Spun Shortens Up For King's Bishop
Photo: Rick Samuels
Hard Spun

Hard Spun likely has only three races left in his career. That was confirmed when it was recently announced that the Danzig colt would stand for Darley after the Breeders’ Cup.

That means the Aug. 25 $250,000 King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I) may provide Hard Spun with his best chance to finally capture an elusive grade I race, as he shortens up to seven furlongs in a test for 3-year-olds over Saratoga’s main track.

Hard Spun, out of Turkoman mare Turkish Tryst, has been a top-end 3-year-old since winning the Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) last March. Since then he has been competitive in all three Triple Crown races and the Haskell Invitational (gr. I), but has given way down the stretch in every one. Trainer Larry Jones is hoping that going back to a sprint will not only suit his colt but freshen him for the ultimate goal: the $5-million Breeders’ Cup Class-Powered by Dodge (gr. I).

“We’re going to take one more shot at Street Sense and Curlin,” said Jones. “Our goal is the Breeders’ Cup Classic and this is a chance for a nice, easy progression towards it. He is still undefeated under a mile. Going seven furlongs should be a good move for him. We’ve kept his gallops short and let him get up in the bit a little bit.  With Monmouth favoring speed, I’d rather him go into the Breeders’ Cup thinking more speed.”

“It’s important in any stallion’s career to have a grade I under him.”

Hard Spun, who will get jockey Mario Pino and leave from post three, will face 10 challengers in the King’s Bishop, four that have won graded stakes. Aside from Hard Spun, Teuflesberg has earned more money than anyone in the event ($609,481) and has finished first or second in his last three races, all stakes.

The son of Johannesburg took the Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont in June and followed up that performance with a pair of seconds in the Carry Back Stakes (gr. II) and the Glow Stakes at Saratoga Aug. 4. Trained by Jamie Sanders, Teuflesberg should be on or right near the lead at the start of the King’s Bishop.

The Todd Pletcher-trained King of the Roxy has won a pair of graded stakes, including the Futurity (gr. II) last September, which was also at seven furlongs. The Ohio-bred has been close in both the Barbaro Stakes (gr. III) and the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), and won the Hutcheson (gr. II) at Gulfstream in March.

Bob Baffert’s E Z Warrior has been lightly raced, having started only four times in his career. But the son of Exploit has won three times, including the Hollywood Juvenile Stakes (gr. III) last summer. Most recently, the $1.2-million juvenile purchase ran a disappointing eighth on the Del Mar Polytrack in the Bing Crosby Handicap (gr. I) July 29.

Baffert won the King’s Bishop in 1999 with Forestry.

Most Distinguished may be a factor as well, having been nearly perfect in New York this summer. Trained by Nick Zito, Most Distinguished won both an allowance at Belmont and most recently the Amsterdam Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga July 30. His only blemish is a two-length loss to Teuflesberg in the Woody Stephens. The son of Dixie Union has been on the board in 11 of 12 career races for Live Oak Plantation.

“He’s a consistent horse that tries hard and is there every time,” Zito said.  “We got a good, solid race from him in the Amsterdam.  Stretching out a little in distance is going to help him. This is always a great race. I’d love to win it.”

First Defence, who figures to be a pace-setter, Spin Master, Pauillac, Longley, Forty Grams and Bold Start round out the field. Post time is 4:55 p.m. and immediately precedes the Travers Stakes (gr. I).

$250,000 King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I, Race 8, 4:55 p.m.), 3-year-Olds, Seven Furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. E Z Warrior (KY), 119, David Romero Flores
2. Spin Master (KY), 119, Garrett K. Gomez
3. Hard Spun (PA),  121, Mario G. Pino
4. Pauillac (KY),  117, Julien R. Leparoux
5. Longley (KY),  119, John R. Velazquez
6. Forty Grams (KY), 119, Edgar S. Prado
7. Teuflesberg (KY), 121, Robby Albarado
8. Most Distinguished (KY), 121, Rafael Bejarano
9. First Defence (KY),  119, Javier Castellano
10. Bold Start (KY,)  117, Kent J. Desormeaux
11. King of the Roxy (OH,) 121, Ramon A. Dominguez

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