11/15/2006 12:00AM

Hard Spun creates buzz


It's way too early to begin making comparisons to Afleet Alex, but 2-year-old colt Hard Spun has already stirred up some excitement at Delaware Park.

A television crew and writers from two metropolitan daily newspapers were at the track on Tuesday to watch Hard Spun score his second dominating victory in as many starts.

Racing on the medication Lasix for the first time over a sloppy track, Hard Spun splashed his way to a five-length win over four other 2-year-olds in the $61,900 Fort Penn Stakes. He ran the six furlongs in 1:10.40 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 90.

Last month, Hard Spun, a Pennsylvania-bred son of Danzig, crushed a group of maidens by 8 3/4 lengths, earning a Beyer of 84.

Although he broke last in the field of five, Hard Spun moved up quickly and took the lead from pacesetter Mister Jon with a half-mile remaining in the Fort Penn, took command in upper stretch, and was hand-ridden to the wire by jockey Mario Pino.

"I did see him have to work at it a little bit," Jones said. "I saw some real good things. He sat off other horses, and when Mario asked him to go, he moved to the outside and he was very maneuverable."

Purchased privately as a yearling for $400,000 by Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm, Hard Spun could race at least once more this season before heading to Oaklawn Park, where he could attempt to follow the same path Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex took on the road to the Triple Crown.

Trainer Larry Jones is considering running Hard Spun in either the $85,000 H. Steward Mitchell Stakes, a seven-furlong race at Laurel Park on Dec. 2, or the Delta Jackpot, a $1omillion Grade 3 race at 1 1/16 miles at Delta Downs on Dec. 1.

"Those are the options, and I do not know if we will use either one, but that is what we are looking at," Jones said. "We just need to see how quickly he recovers from this race. He will be on his way to Oaklawn Park, and hopefully he can follow the footsteps of horses like Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex."

Tentative plans call for Hard Spun to travel to Oaklawn the last week of November.