The television cameras and reporters were ready again Dec. 18 when the colt started as the heavy 1-5 favorite in the $57,050 Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes for juvenile Pennsylvania-bred colts and geldings at Philadelphia Park, and he didn't disappoint his enthusiastic band of supporters as he romped home in the seven-furlong test by 7 3/4 lengths.
Trained by J. Larry Jones and ridden by Mario Pino, Hard Spun tracked early pacesetter Saltie Springs through the first quarter-mile, then took command and was never seriously challenged thereafter. He reeled off splits of :46.07 and 1:11.04 while steadily increasing his margin to the wire. He won handily in 1:23.87.
Hard Spun is now three-for-three with earnings of $100,970. He has won those three starts by a combined 21 1/2 lengths.
An unusually large Monday crowd gathered around the paddock and lined the rail to see Hard Spun, who was bred by Michael Moran and Brushwood Stable. The performance caused many to begin comparing Hard Spun with Pennsylvania-bred Smarty Jones, who won the Nursery in 2003 en route to victories the following year in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
After the race, Pino said: "He was so much the best, and we were trying to get him to rate off a horse, but he's just too good."
Jones, who had been based at Delaware Park this year, will send Hard Spun to his winter quarters at Oaklawn Park to join the rest of his horses. He said the Jan. 13 Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds will be his next race, with future plans to include Oaklawn's 3-year-old Triple Crown preps.
Hard Spun was entered in the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale. He received a top bid of $485,000 but his reserve was not attained.