Hard Spun, who won his first four races by 28 lengths before tasting defeat in the Feb. 19 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, is the lukewarm favorite for Satuday's Lane End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park. The field of a dozen 3-year-olds males will carry 121 pounds over the 1 1/8 miles.
The morning line favorite at 5-2, Hard Spun will start from post 10. "I was disappointed at first, but [trainer] Larry [Jones] says it's OK," said assistant trainer Cindy Jones. "There's enough speed in the race that he can drop over and get into a good position."
Hard Spun broke from the outside post in his fourth-place finish in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park after three consecutive stakes wins, including the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds. Jones has said he felt the colt did not handle the Oaklawn track, which prompted his decision to enter the Lane's End instead of the Rebel Stakes (gr. III, run last Saturday and won by Curlin). Regular rider Mario Pino will be aboard again.
For Your Reppo is light on earnings but long on promise after finishing second in a tough Gulfstream allowance at the Lane's End distance in his first start after breaking his maiden there. For You Reppo is 10-1 on the morning line. Kent Desormeaux will ride For You Reppo in the Lane's End and Trust Your Luck in the Rushaway on the Lane's End undercard.
"I just can't get any luck [at the draw]," said trainer Helen Pitts after For You Reppo drew post 11. "Silverinyourpocket drew the 10 in the Bourbonette (also on the undercard). Actually, though, Turfway has a longer run to the first turn than Gulfstream, and he handled the 10 hole there. I'm just glad to be in the race."
Sports Town drew post 3, which pleased assistant trainer Tonja Terranova. "I'm happy with it," she said. "We didn't want to be too far outside. This will help him get into gear." Sports Town is 15-1 on the morning line. Shaun Bridgmohan has the call.
Todd Pletcher was satisfied with the posts drawn by Twilight Meteor (7), third on the morning line at 4-1, and Bullara (5), co-fourth at 6-1. “The draw is fine--right in the middle of a large field," he said. "Both horses are a bit tactical and should be able to get a good position going into the first turn."
Pletcher, who won this race in 2001 with Balto Star and in 2005 with Flower Alley, hopes to be at Turfway to see his charges run in the Lane’s End. “I’m trying to figure out travel arrangements right now,” he said. “I have some important works coming up Saturday and Sunday in Florida that I want to be there for, but I also want to make the races Saturday at Turfway."
John Velazquez will ride Bullara. Edgar Prado will be in to ride Twilight Meteor in the Lane's End and Meritocracy in the Rushaway.
Phil Sims was happy with the luck of the draw for WEBN Stakes winner Joe Got Even. "We're happy with the 9 post," he said. "We were hoping for 7, 8, or 9. There's a lot of speed in the race and our horse comes from off the pace, so we think the 9 hole will keep him out of trouble."
Miguel Mena has the call on Joe Got Even, who is 15-1 on the morning line.
Hard Spun, Sports Town, and Approval Rating have been training over the Turfway track this week. The Florida contingent—Bullara, Twilight Meteor, For You Reppo, Forefathers, Highest Degree, and Sedgefield—are due at Turfway mid-day on Thursday. Starbase will arrive from Oaklawn on Thursday.
Exactly 12 horses entered the race, the maximum allowed. The surprise of the day was the decision by trainer Eric Reed not to enter Catman Running, decisive winner of the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway March 3.
"I really wanted to run, but I knew after I worked him the other day he was still too sharp," said Reed. "It takes him four or five weeks to settle and get his mind back. The 20 days between races just wasn't enough time. We'll take a look at the Illinois Derby (gr. II, April 7), but that's still maybe too soon. We'll probably look more at the Lexington Stakes (gr. II at Keeneland April 21)."
$500,000 Lane's End Stakes (gr. II, Race 10, 5:45 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, ML Odds
1. Highest Degree Alonso Quinonez 20-1
2. Starbase Terry Thompson 20-1
3. Sports Town Shaun Bridgmohan 15-1
4. Approval Rating Patrick Husbands 30-1
5. Bullara John Velazquez 6-1
6. Forefathers Julien Leparoux 7-2
7.Twilight Meteor Edgar Prado 4-1
8. Helios Channing Hill 50-1
9. Joe Got Even Miquel Mena 15-1
10. Hard Spun Mario Pino 5-2
11. For You Reppo Kent Desormeaux 10-1
12. Sedgefield Rafel Bejarano 6-1