Road to the Kentucky Derby

Posted: March 20, 2007

Hard Spun, owned locally by Rick Porter, will attempt to climb back among the top Kentucky Derby hopefuls in this Saturday's $500,000 Lane's End, a Grade II race at 11/8 miles at Turfway Park in Kentucky (ESPN, 5:45 p.m. post). Undefeated in his first four starts, Hard Spun was a disappointing fourth in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 19. The son of Danzig worked five furlongs in 1 minute, 3/5 seconds yesterday over the synthetic Polytrack at Turfway. "He handled the surface really well," jockey Mario Pino said yesterday. "He felt great. Hopefully, he'll rebound and show how good he is. In the [Southwest] it was like he was running on a beach. He never felt comfortable, he was struggling." Pino, 45, a jockey for 27 years, said his journey from Washington to Kentucky was the farthest he had ever traveled just to work a horse.

Here is Craig Donnelly's top-10 list.

No. Horse                Trainer       Jockey            Comment

1. STREET SENSE          Nafzger      Borel             Juvenile champ benefited from another good                                                          trip to narrowly win Tampa Bay Derby Saturday                                                       in first race since November; showed late kick                                                       and determination. Blue Grass (April 14) is next.

2. CURLIN                Asmussen   Albarado      Romped in Rebel on Saturday, validating his                                                          nearly 13-length debut score; lightly raced but                                                       awesome talent.

3. NOBIZ LIKE SHOBIZ       Tagg         C.Velasquez   Disappointed in Fountain of Youth. Still    appears                                                    a bit "green" but has shown ample ability.

4. CIRCULAR QUAY          Pletcher      J.Velazquez      Displayed expected closing kick to win                                                                Louisiana Derby; one of dozen of Pletcher                                                             contenders for May 5 Derby.

5. STORMELLO             Currin      Desormeaux   Extremely game effort in narrow loss to Scat                                                          Daddy in Fountain of Youth despite eventful                                                          road trip; Florida Derby is next.

6. GREAT HUNTER          O'Neill      Nakatani         Won Santa Anita stake in convincing style;                                                          locally bred and targeting April 14 Blue Grass.

7. ANY GIVEN SATURDAY    Pletcher      J.Velazquez      Took long way home and just missed by a nose                                                       in a game try to Street Sense in Tampa Bay                                                          Derby; improving with each start.

8. HARD SPUN             Jones      Pino            Connections blamed trip and surface for first                                                          loss; needs to rebound in Lane's End.

9. NOTIONAL             O'Neill      Albarado      Outran easier avoiding trouble in Risen Star;                                                          another West Coast hopeful.

10. CHELOKEE             Matz         Guidry         Overcame trouble to win tough Gulfstream                                                          allowance test; Next for Barbaro barn runner is                                                       Lane's End.

Others to consider: Cowtown Cat, Adore the Gold, Ravel, Scat Daddy, Cobalt Blue.

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