03/06/2007 1:00AM

Hard Spun leans toward Lane's End

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Hard Spun will likely pass the Grade 3, $300,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 17 in favor of the Grade 2, $500,000 Lane's End at Turfway Park on March 24, his trainer, Larry Jones, said on Tuesday.

Jones said he doesn't think Hard Spun is handling the racing surface at Oaklawn. He discussed the matter with owner Rick Porter after Hard Spun worked a half-mile in 50 seconds here Monday. Before committing to the Lane's End, Jones wants to make sure Hard spun has enough earnings to be guaranteed a spot in the starting gate.

"I've got to call Turfway first, and make sure there's no way that we will not make the cut," he said. "I don't know what the cutoff is. He's got [$173,470] in earnings, $60,000 something of them are in graded - you've got to think he'll make the cut. I just need to contact Turfway. But if we're guaranteed a [spot], he'll be shipping up this weekend."

The Lane's End field is limited to 12 starters. According to the nomination sheet, if it is oversubscribed the first preference is given to graded or group stakes winners, with Grade 1 winners getting preference over Grade 2 winners, and Grade 2 winners preference over Grade 3 winners. The second preference is stakes winners, then highest career earnings. Hard Spun's most prestigious win came in the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds.

Overall, he is 4 for 5, his other stakes wins coming in the Port Penn at Delaware Park and the Pennsylvania Nursery at Philadelphia Park. Hard Spun was favored in his last start, the $250,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn, but finished fourth in a race in which he struggled with the surface, said Jones.

Hard Spun also came back tired from the work Monday, according to Jones. "He just really doesn't seem to handle this track," he said. "There's different horses for different courses, and I just don't know that he's the horse for this course."

The Lane's End will be run over Polytrack. Jones said Hard Spun has trained well over a synthetic surface before, when he was based at Fair Hill training center in Maryland. If the Lane's End is the next start for Hard Spun, he could remain in Kentucky and run at Keeneland, in either the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass on April 14, or the Grade 2, $325,000 Lexington on April 21, Jones said. Both are preps for the Kentucky Derby.

Hard Spun was the 10-1 third favorite among the 23 individual interests in the first pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

Curlin in town for Rebel

Curlin shipped out of his Fair Grounds base on Tuesday morning, headed for Oaklawn, said Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen. He was to arrive Tuesday afternoon. Curlin is scheduled to make his stakes debut in the Rebel. He breezed six furlongs at Fair Grounds on Monday in 1:12.20.

Curlin won his career debut last out by 12 3/4 lengths, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 101 in a seven-furlong maiden race at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 3. Following the race, Midnight Cry Stable, which owned Curlin, sold majority interest in him to a partnership that includes Stonestreet Stable, Padua Stable, and George Bolton. Curlin was transferred from trainer Helen Pitts to Asmussen, who will be starting him for the first time in the Rebel.

Teuflesberg, who won the Southwest, is due in this week from Fair Grounds and is also pointing for the Rebel. Other probables for the race include Flying First Class, who earned a 107 Beyer for a maiden win this meet at Oaklawn, Grade 3 winners Officer Rocket, Xchanger, and multiple stakes winner Going Ballistic.

John Jacinto, who leads all riders at Oaklawn, has the mount on Xchanger, said trainer Mark Shuman.

The Rebel will be shown live on ESPN.

Sutra eyes Grade 2 Beaumont

Sutra, the Grade 1 Frizette winner, might race next at Keeneland, said her trainer, Michael Stidham. Sutra shipped up from Fair Grounds and finished second in her first start of the year in an optional claimer here last Friday.

"We're probably going to be looking at the Stonerside Beaumont as her next start," he said. "That's the tentative plan."

The Grade 2 Beaumont, at about seven furlongs, will be run at Keeneland on April 12.

Sutra was making her first start since a ninth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in the optional claimer, which was run at six furlongs. She finished 2 1/4 lengths behind front-running winner Floral Park.

"I thought that filly might get out there loose on the lead, which she did and we just couldn't run her down," said Stidham "I was pleased with our filly's effort."

- additional reporting by Jay Privman