02/20/2007 12:00AM

Teuflesberg a surprise to all but connections

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Teuflesberg has been regarded by some as a sprinter, but his trainer, Jamie Sanders, has long expected him to be effective around two turns, and after his win Monday in the $250,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn, she plans to keep him on the track's path to the Arkansas Derby.

Teuflesberg shipped in from Fair Grounds for the Southwest, and before the sun was up Tuesday morning he was on his way back home to New Orleans. Teuflesberg won around two turns for the first time in the Southwest from four route tries, and led throughout for a 1 1/2-length win at 23-1. The victory earned him a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 100.

"He did everything we knew he could do," Sanders said before shipping on Tuesday. "We had total confidence this colt would do what he did yesterday, eventually, when he got everything together. Every time he's run long, something's happened. And sometimes when he's run short, things have happened. He's been a very hard-luck horse. Finally, it all came together."

Teuflesberg won the Southwest over a field that included the previously undefeated Hard Spun. Sanders said the plan is to bring Teuflesberg back to Oaklawn for the Grade 3, $300,000 Rebel Stakes at 1o1/16 miles on March 17. The race is the final prep for the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 14.

"They have a really good program, and he really loved the track," she said. "The first day I galloped him out there, he handled the track so beautifully. It would be a shame not to let him run here."

Teuflesberg is nominated to the Triple Crown.

"We've always had high hopes for him from the beginning," said Sanders, who co-owns the colt with her fiance, Donnie Kelly, and Gary Logsdon.

Teuflesberg is a son of the 2001 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner, Johannesburg. Sanders said Stewart Elliott, who was aboard for the Southwest, has the Rebel mount.

Hard Spun to regroup, try again

Hard Spun, who finished fourth, three lengths behind Teuflesberg, as the 1-2 favorite in the Southwest, is scheduled to advance to the Rebel, his trainer, Larry Jones, said Tuesday. Hard Spun, 4 for 4 coming into the Southwest, was wide throughout the one-mile race after breaking from post 9 under jockey Mario Pino, and he also seemed to struggle with the surface here, said Jones.

"I knew at the five-eighths pole we were in trouble, because Mario wasn't asking him to go, but he wasn't discouraging him to go, and he wasn't picking up horses real fast," said Jones. "You could tell he was struggling. This is the second time I've ever seen him struggle."

Jones said that when Hard Spun won the Port Penn at Delaware Park in November on a sloppy track, "you could tell he was working at it a little."

Jones said that since Hard Spun had set a rapid half-mile time of 44.91 seconds that day, "you expect him to struggle a little coming home. But yesterday, I saw him struggling again, so I'm sure he had some issues with the track.

"He probably would appreciate a little tighter track. I'm not saying the track was bad, it just wasn't for Hard Spun yesterday."

Hard Spun, who had led throughout in his races before the Southwest, was several lengths off the pace Monday.

"He got away from the gate a little crooked, and I think that was one reason he wasn't right up on the front," said Jones.

Jones said Hard Spun appeared to hit the starting gate coming out of it, and aside from "knocking some hair off" a stifle, he emerged from the race in good order.

Officer Rocket headed to Rebel

Officer Rocket, who closed well into a headwind to finish second to Teuflesberg, is being pointed for the Rebel, said his trainer, Bob Holthus. In the Southwest, Officer Rocket was shuffled back on the final turn, then rallied under Calvin Borel to finish 1o1/2 lengths back in second.

"The horse just got into trouble, and he couldn't get him to going when he wanted to," said Holthus. "But when he did, he came on."

Officer Rocket won last year's Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity.

Plans open for Forty Grams

Forty Grams, third in the Southwest, will be considered for the Rebel, his trainer, Steve Asmussen, said Tuesday. Forty Grams was a 13-length allowance winner at Fair Grounds one start before the Southwest.

"He'll go back to New Orleans, and then we'll decide where to run him," said Asmussen. "It was a very credible race, and he'll move forward."

Forty Grams, making his stakes debut in the Southwest, finished 2 1/2 lengths behind Teuflesberg.

* Flying First Class, an eight-length maiden winner at six furlongs Monday, earned a Beyer Figure of 107. He is trained by Wayne Lukas.