07/20/2007 12:00AM

Pino back on Hard Spun for Haskell


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Trainer Larry Jones conducted a reconnaissance mission at Monmouth Park from July 6-8.

The Delaware Park-based trainer brought five horses to Monmouth to test the main track and the new cushion that was installed before the start of the meet. Jones came away convinced that Kentucky Derby runner-up Hard Spun will have no problem with the speed-favoring surface in the $1 million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 5.

"We tried it out enough to see that there wasn't anything we needed to work with and that basically the horses liked it," Jones said. "We were extremely pleased with what we saw and the way the track is. We feel like it won't be an issue for him."

Hard Spun will be reunited with jockey Mario Pino, who was replaced by Garrett Gomez for the Belmont. Pino had been the colt's only rider for his first eight starts.

"I feel like the team is back together," Jones said. "Whether every one of us is the best player for the deal, I don't know. But it's our team and that's what we're going with."

The Haskell will be Hard Spun's first race since the Triple Crown. He was third in the Preakness and fourth in the Belmont Stakes.

"He came out of the Triple Crown good," Jones said. "It was good for him to recharge his batteries. He continues to fill out more all the time. He's getting to be a pretty good-sized boy.

"Any time you have three races in five weeks and they try as hard as he did, they have to be tired, whether they act it or not. Thank goodness we made him take the time off."

The Haskell, at 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-olds, is the highlight of every summer at Monmouth. In addition to Hard Spun, expected starters include Preakness winner Curlin, Dwyer winner Any Given Saturday, the undefeated Cable Boy, and Imawildandcrazyguy, who was fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

"It is shaping up to be a great race with those five," said Mike Dempsey, Monmouth's racing secretary. "We're hopeful of getting another two horses."

Cable Boy impresses in drill

Cable Boy, the lone Monmouth-based horse heading to the Haskell, worked five furlongs in a sharp 57.20 seconds between the first and second races Friday.

The unbeaten colt has not run since easily winning the Coronado's Quest Stakes here June 24. Trainer John Forbes and longtime assistant Pat McBurney elected to skip Monmouth's Long Branch Stakes last week, the traditional Haskell prep, and train Cable Boy up to the race.

Since Cable Boy would have a six-week gap between starts, Forbes opted for the afternoon workout as a way to simulate race conditions as closely as possible.

Cable Boy entered the saddling area on his toes, neck bowed with a handler on both sides. He was saddled in the enclosure along with the second race horses before regular rider Jose Velez Jr. was given a leg up.

The colt seemed to lope along after breaking off at the five-furlong pole, but the timer told another tale as he zipped the opening quarter in 22.40 seconds. He was still cruising effortlessly through a half in 45.60 and a final furlong in 11.60.

"I thought it was terrific," Forbes said. "It was easy the first part and he finished up the way you'd want to."

Velez only turned the horse loose in the final furlong.

"I only let him run from the eighth pole to the wire and he galloped out good," Velez said. "I couldn't pull him up."

According to Forbes, Cable Boy will have a "strong open gallop" next week and a final work on race week.

Des Moines ships in from Iowa

Des Moines came all the way from Iowa in a one-horse trailer for Sunday's $60,000 Post Deb Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Trainer Ray E. Tracey Jr. sent his three children and the filly here for the 5 1/2-furlong race.

Des Moines, 6 for 14 in her career, carries a two-race winning streak into the Post Deb. It started in Canada in the Chantilly Stakes at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg and continued with an allowance victory at her home track, Prairie Meadows.

Des Moines faces four rivals, including La Traviata, a $1.1 million 2-year-old purchase making her second start following a 13 1/4-length maiden win at Churchill Downs for trainer Patrick Biancone.

The $70,000 Skip Away Stakes, also on the schedule for Sunday, did not fill. The prep for the Grade 3, $300,000 Iselin Breeders' Cup Stakes Aug. 18 has been rescheduled for July 28.

* Victor Molina finished in a dead heat for fourth aboard Wild for Gold in the sixth race Friday, his first mount since serving a 30-day suspension for kicking a horse prior to a race at Philadelphia Park on June 18.