Saratoga Springs, NY--August 23, 2007

Dear Diary,

Even though he will not two-step into the big dance, theres a certain symmetry to the presence of Hard Spun in a seven furlong Grade 1 race at Saratoga Race Course on Travers Day.

And if any colt is deserving of a Grade 1 title, its the Larry Jones trained son of Danzig, from the Turkoman mare, Turkish Tryst.

Interesting that Danzig and Turkoman have a deserved reputation as stamina influences. But you should have seen them sprint.

If you blinked, you missed Danzig. He ran only three times, twice at Belmont, once at Monmouth Park. He was a blur.

Hall of Famer Woody Stephens had him ready for debut. Won by a short pole, too, beneath one of Woodys exercise riders, Joe Brocklebank, the 10-pound bug, now the bloodstock agent.

Did I mention he was a blur? Well, that blur, undefeated in a three-race career until suffering a knee injury, also sired nearly 200 stakes winners, including 10 champions.

During a championship campaign as a four-year-old, Turkoman made a stopover that winter at Hialeah. After first intimidating the field in the paddock, he then came from Broward County to win the seven furlong sprint with a remarkable and wide late turn of foot.

Think Forego at Belmont Park.

Not as prolific as three-time champion sire Danzig, Turkoman the stud had his share of champions, especially as a broodmare sire. Travers and Horse of the Year champion Point Given comes to mind.

Their son/grandson, Hard Spun, can really run, too. He galloped in the LeComte and Lanes End in early spring, and the divisions leaders know all about him from the Derby and Preakness.

The Belmont? Well, he never was given a chance to show what he could do. If that wasnt the worst stakes ride in the career of the brilliant Garrett Gomez, its in the conversation.

After regrouping for two months, Hard Spun returned with a game, pace-pressing second in Any Given Saturdays Haskell. Trainer Larry Jones opened his lungs with a bullet half-mile in :47, termed breezing, then shipped him here, where hes galloped to Jones satisfaction.

Hard Spun deserves his first Grade 1, and should get it.

E Z Warrior, having drawn the pole, will be under the gun and figures to rush up for the lead, shadowed closely by Spin Master, King of the Roxy, First Defence and Hard Spun. Teuflesberg will be enjoying the view from mid-pack.

Unless I missed my guess, Mario Pino will challenge for the lead midway of the turn and will gain the advantage into the stretch. At that point, hell brace for the stretch challenge of Teuflesberg, the divisions iron horse.

Jamie Sanders colt will make the Kings Bishop exciting in deep stretch. But Hard Spun will have his Grade 1 title.



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The Mickey G. Walsh: Planets Aligned, after a race over the course and benefiting from added ground, remembered that he loves Saratoga turf. Creeping up behind leaders on the final turn beneath Chip Miller, now 2-for-2 aboard the six-year-old chaser, he remained covered up until after reaching the final obstacle and out-sprinted Rum Squall, a winner here Aug. 2, to the pole. The jump-up sport has been good this season with this $70,000 overnight novice stakes no exception. Next year, well be looking for Planets Aligned in the Smithwick Memorial, prepping for the Grade 1 New York Turf Writers for the redoubtable Tommy Voss. Props to Chip Miller on his 200th career steeplechase victory, the eighth rider to join the 800 club. He needs two more wins to tie his sister Blythe for seventh at 202.

Second Race: To this point Barclay Tagg was having a quietly good meet. No more qualifiers. Good has become great, and theres no longer anything quiet about it. Certainly no one spoke of debuting New York-bred Big Truck in hushed tones: Secrets dont pay $3.30 to win. After surviving a pace scramble of :22.26 and :45.74, Big Truck took command entering the far turn, drew away coming out of it, and never was seriously threatened. He stopped the timer at 1:17.65 for 6- furlongs and has a future, obviously. Tagg has a history of doing pretty well with young state-breds that can run. As usual second-time Kiaran McLaughlin maiden, Post Exchange, improved on his debut, a good placing, and show finisher Cape of Storms made a sustained late run down the center of the track. These two should not be maidens for long; follow.

Third Race: George Weaver has suffered his share of tough beats at this meeting but finally got a break due thanks to the resurgent Ya Think and crafty handling from Gomez. Ya Think shook clear early, was headed in midstretch when Bill Motts At Attention put his head in front, but the Broken Vow colt came again from along the fence to re-take the lead for good. At Attention shortened stride perceptibly late and might benefit from more patient handling next time around. Newcomer Veiled Prophet made a sustained, wide run for third. Will benefit from the experience and likely wants more ground, too; follow progress.

Fourth Race: Chalk-eaters find something good to eat. Or thatsa nicea piz-za, intoned Durkin, whose second choice was Pizza delivers. Thats enough groaners for one race, ya think? Sorry, third race Anyway, Pizza, first-time tag, stalked, mid-moved, and prevailed. But not before Cant Bluff Mulvey gave chalk eaters agita at the eighth pole with a bold rail run, settling for place. Pass the crushed red, please.

Fifth Race: For a change, how about state-bred maidens going 5- furlongs on the grass? Longingfortheone controlled tempo from the start, repulsed Sultry Sues mid-race bid, the latter all out to hold the place from the too-late running Miss Annie M.; note.

Sixth Race: Just when it appeared Three In The Bag had stolen it, the frontrunner opening the lead out into the stretch under Johnny Vs urging, the would-be Spa repeater stopped. In midstretch, Extreme Supreme inherited the lead, Cornelio Velasquez urging him forward for John Ward and withstanding the sustained late run of Deputy Indy. The winner had winning position; the runnerup making the greater effort to no avail.

Seventh Race: How about five and a half on the grass, for the third time today. I know these races fill, but arent we overdoing it just a tad? Meanwhile, the ride of the day was put up by Rafael Bejarano who sque-e-e-e-z-e-d through a sliver of an opening on the fence and just nailed Citifest under Jesus Ponce, who did everything right but win, cutting the corner deftly into the stretch. It had looked as if Storm N Lightning had it won at headstretch, but he couldnt sustain his rally through the lane.

The Ballston Spa: The Grade 2 for fillies and mares on turf attracted a Grade 1 field. If ever a filly touted herself before the race it was Wait A While, bursting with controlled energy, on her toes in the paddock, but not too high, either. After sitting behind the pacesetters, she swept up five wide into the lane and finished strongly to win going away in a sparkling 1:40, ending a long losing strong for the Pletcher shed, Gomez in the boot. Vacare sat a perfect rail trip beneath Edgar Prado and was clearly second best. Stablemate Maribel was a too late third, per usual. My Typhoon, winner of the Grade 1 Diana over the course, raced dully throughout.

Ninth Race: The finale, what else, 5- furlongs on turf, went to Judges Pride who speed-popped from his outside slip and kept going, taking her turf debut at 32-1 under apprentice Jose Bracetty. Favorite Too Much Zip chased throughout and lasted for second over Mia, who closed well late from the middle of the course.