01/11/2007 1:00AM

Hard Spun stretches out, faces tougher


NEW ORLEANS - Trainer Larry Jones has ambitious plans this spring for his undefeated Hard Spun, who will make his 3-year-old debut in Saturday's $100,000 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Jones, who is stabled at Oaklawn Park, had originally planned to compete in that track's 3-year-old stakes series, but could choose a different path if Hard Spun runs well in the Lecomte.

"You can get a little bit better graded earnings if you start out on this route," Jones said at Fair Grounds on Thursday. "But we're going to take it one race at a time."

Seven 3-year-olds will contest the Grade 3, one-mile Lecomte, the first leg of a series which continues with the Grade 3, $300,000 Risen Star on Feb. 10 and concludes with the Grade 2, $600,000 Louisiana Derby on March 10. The Lecomte is the main event on Road to the Derby Kickoff Day, which also includes four other stakes. The Lecomte, Tiffany Lass, A.B. Leggio, and Col. Power comprise an all stakes pick four.

Hard Spun, owned by Fox Hill Farms Inc., has toyed with the three fields he's faced. After winning at first asking by 8 3/4 lengths at Delaware Park on Oct. 22, Jones immediately placed Hard Spun in stakes company at that track and the Danzig colt responded with a five-length score in the Fort Penn Stakes. In his most recent start, Hard Spun won the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes for statebreds at Philadelphia Park by 7 3/4 lengths.

"This will be his first trip around two turns and the first time he's had a class test like this," said Jones. "There are some horses in here who've run good numbers. He'll be tested for courage and distance as well."

Hard Spun's main rival is Teuflesberg, an easy winner of the $75,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes here at six furlongs. Teuflesburg is the most seasoned performer in the field with 11 starts, including six in graded stakes. In his last two starts he has shown the ability to rate after being too hot-blooded to do so early in his career. Robby Albarado should be able to settle Teuflesburg behind the early leaders from his outside post.

Makeithapencaptain is another solid contender off his last start at Hawthorne Park, a first-level allowance romp in the slop at 1 1/16 miles. A Bret Calhoun-trained son of Aptitude, Makeithapencaptain also looked good winning his maiden by 8 1/4 lengths at Hawthorne on Oct. 14.

The Michael Stidham-trained Tony Terrific is undefeated in two starts and will be tested for class in here. Izzy's Halo earned a 90 Beyer Speed figure winning his maiden in his last start.