11/17/2006 12:00AM

Hard Spun living up to his family's legacy


LEXINGTON, Ky. - These days, the sun shines bright on the Pennsylvania home breeder. Prospects for the breeding incentive program in the Keystone State are certainly looking up as the state's racetracks begin to implement gaming that is expected to boost purses and earnings significantly for horses racing in the state.

As a result of the expectations for greater profitability, more young racehorses are being bred in Pennsylvania, and they may become the sort of horses to rival past Pennsylvania-bred heroes, like Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones or the unbeaten Danzig, a son of Northern Dancer who became a legendary sire standing at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky.

One of the budding stars of Pennsylvania breeding may be an unbeaten son of Danzig named Hard Spun.

The winner in both of his starts, Hard Spun most recently won the Port Penn Stakes at Delaware on Nov. 14. The quick bay colt is already one step ahead of his famous sire, who never competed in a stakes race.

Hard Spun was bred by Michael Moran and the Brushwood Farm of Betty Moran, one of the premier Pennsylvania operations, and he races for Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farms. The colt was sent through the ring at the Keeneland September sale last year, went unsold at $485,000, and then was sold privately.

Eaton Sales consigned the colt for Brushwood, and the consignment company's co-owner Reiley McDonald said: "This colt's dam has done well as a racehorse and a producer, and Hard Spun was a lovely colt but was a bit immature. But he was so nice that I was pretty sure he would bring $500,000, and that's where we set the reserve."

The May 10 foal did not exceed the reserve, probably because he was not as large and progressive as some other select yearlings at Keeneland September, but he had the balance and frame to indicate considerable potential as an athlete.

These qualities were evident enough that they brought a buyer looking for a good horse.

"Even though we bought him back, Rick Porter saw something in the colt, kept coming back over three days, and we negotiated and came to a deal," McDonald said. "Rick was a like a dog with a bone. He really wanted that colt, and he got him."

Now Porter, who also raced the highly regarded Rockport Harbor, has another fine prospect from an outstanding classic family.

Hard Spun is a half-brother to stakes winner Our Rite of Spring, a mare of 2001 by the Nureyev horse Stravinsky, and both stakes winners are out of the Turkoman mare Turkish Tryst.

Turkish Tryst was a good turf performer who won the April Run Stakes at 5 and also ran third in the Grade 2 Matchmaker Stakes. Bred in Kentucky at Darby Dan Farm, Turkish Tryst was one of four offspring - all fillies - from her dam, Darbyvail, and the only stakes winner.

Darbyvail, by the English Derby winner Roberto and bred by Galbreath family partners from Darby Dan Farm, won only two minor races, but she had such a lustrous pedigree that she received considerably better-than-average opportunities at stud.

Darbyvail is a half-sister to three stakes winners: Little Current (by Sea-Bird), Water Dance (Nijinsky), and Prayers'n Promises (Foolish Pleasure). All are out of the My Babu mare Luiana. The best of these was Little Current, the champion 3-year-old colt of 1974 and winner of that year's Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

Likewise, Luiana, the dam of this trio of high-class racers, was a half-sister to a pair of stars from Darby Dan's breeding program in the early 1960's. Luiana is out of the Polynesian mare Banquet Bell, also the dam of champions Primonetta and Chateaugay.

The full siblings were from the first and third crops by Horse of the Year Swaps, who was acquired to stand at Darby Dan Farm.

Swaps struck first for Darby Dan with Primonetta, who was the champion older filly of 1962, after being a major winner at 2 and 3. The following year, Chateaugay won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, which earned him a title as champion 3-year-old colt.

Those are large shoes to fill, but Hard Spun is advancing one step at a time to continue the legacy of excellence in his family. The colt won his debut, a maiden special at Delaware on Oct. 22, by 8 3/4 lengths, then came back on Nov. 14 to win the Port Penn Stakes at Delaware by five lengths and earn a Beyer Speed Figure of 90 for running six furlongs in 1:10.40.

As Hard Spun is the second stakes winner and third stakes-placed horse from Turkish Tryst, the mare is developing a tradition of her own. She is in foal to Kingmambo for 2007, McDonald said.

"For next year's mating, Mrs. Moran has plenty of seasons of her own from shares," said McDonald. "Whatever Hard Spun does will help to determine how good the mare's mate will be."