02/19/2007 1:00AM

Teuflesberg wires Southwest rivals


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Teuflesberg got the jump on the field at the start, and led throughout to win the $250,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Monday at 23-1, as 1-2 favorite Hard Spun was wide on both turns and finished fourth. Teuflesberg won by 1 1/2 lengths over a late-running Officer Rocket, while it was another length back to Forty Grams in third.

Teuflesberg ($48.80) broke with the field and moved to the lead quickly with Forty Grams in close pursuit in the one-mile race for 3-year-olds. Teuflesberg was up by a length through an opening quarter-mile in 23.68 seconds, and continued to lead the field through a half-mile in 47.90 and six furlongs in 1:12.06. Hard Spun launched a four-wide bid on the final turn, but Teuflesberg remained in command of the race and drove home, covering the distance in 1:38.20.

"Today, we took the blinkers off him for the first time," said Jamie Sanders, who trains Teuflesberg. "Since we did that, he seemed to relax a little more."

Stewart Elliott rode Teuflesberg, and the win was his second in the Southwest behind the 2004 running with Smarty Jones.

Teuflesberg came to the Southwest after being scratched out of the Gradeo3 Risen Star at Fair Grounds when he drew post 13. His connections were thrilled with post 4 for the Southwest.

"We actually hoped for that post," said Sanders.

Sanders said that if Teuflesberg comes out of the Southwest in good order, he will likely make his next start in the Grade 3, $300,000 Rebel at Oaklawn on March 17. That is the final local prep for the Grade 2, $1omillion Arkansas Derby.

Teuflesberg earned $150,000 for the win, his fourth from 13 starts. A son of Johannesburg co-owned by Sanders, Gary Logsdon and Donnie Kellye, he has now earned $317,931.

Hard Spun was hung five wide going into the first turn from post 9, raced outside of horses down the backside, and raced four wide around the final turn and tired between rivals in the drive. It was the first career loss for Hard Spun, who had won his first four starts by 28 lengths heading into the Southwest. Hard Spun was beaten three lengths by Teuflesberg, and was followed under the wire by Xchanger in fifth, Going Ballistic, Starbase, Our Sacred Honor, and I Got a Dream.