Private Vow Seeks to Regain Winning Form in Kentucky Jockey Club

Edited Churchill Downs report
Mike McCarty's Private Vow, a dazzling nine-length winner of the Belmont Futurity (gr. I) but a victim of horrible luck in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), is a strong favorite in a field of eight 2-year-olds entered for Saturday's 79th running of the $200,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) at Churchill Downs.

The 1 1/16-mile race is co-featured with its counterpart for 2-year-old fillies, the $200,000-added Golden Rod (gr. II), on the closing day of Churchill Downs' 21-day fall meet.

Trainer Steve Asmussen, who leads the nation's trainers in total victories in 2005, hopes that Private Vow will make be able to make amends for his run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, where he finished last of 14 after a rein broke on the turn. Jockey John Velazquez had no way to control the imposing son of Broken Vow  because of that damaged equipment, so he eased Private Vow. The colt officially finished 42 lengths behind the victorious Stevie Wonderboy.

"I feel horrible for the horse more than anything over the Breeders' Cup," Asmussen said. "He's an awesome horse. He's still the horse that won the Belmont Futurity, which, last time I checked, was a pretty good race."

Private Vow was the second horse saddled by Asmussen to win the Belmont Futurity, following Cuvee in 2003. His current star is bidding to become the first Asmussen trainee to win the Kentucky Jockey Club.

Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, the first call rider for Asmussen at Churchill Downs this fall, will be in the saddle aboard Private Vow, who has a record of 3-1-0 in five races and has earned $244,460. He will carry 120 pounds from post three and handicapper Mike Battaglia has installed Asmussen's star as the strong 6-5 morning line favorite.

The most significant opposition to Private Vow could come from Thomas McCann's Catcominatcha and Peachtree Stable's High Cotton, the 1-2 finishers in the $100,000-added Iroquois (gr. III) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.

Catcominatcha, a homebred son of Tale of the Cat  who scored his first victory in a race for $50,000 claiming horses, wove through horses to score a gritty neck victory in the one-mile Iroquois for trainer Eddie Kenneally. It was the first stakes victory for Cacominatcha, who had finished second to Dawn of War in Keeneland's Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. I), a troubled fourth to Stream Cat in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III) at Turfway Park, and second in the James C. Ellis Juvenile at Ellis Park in his three previous stakes outings.

"It's a tough race no doubt about it," said Kenneally. "He likes the track. This is where he trains. It's a good spot for him. He likes the distance. He was second in the mile and a sixteenth Grade I at Keeneland. So it's a logical spot for him to go into."

The Todd Pletcher-trained High Cotton rebounded from a disappointing sixth place finish in the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity to turn in a big runner-up performance in the Iroquois. The son of Dixie Union had a clear lead in mid-stretch, but fought back after being passed by Catcominatcha and was gaining on the winner when the duo hit the finish line.

Jockey Robby Albarado, who won the 1999 Kentucky Jockey Club aboard Captain Steve, will ride High Cotton. The colt will break from the rail post and has been installed as the second choice at odds of 3-1 in Battaglia's morning line.

Other contenders for the Kentucky Jockey Club include Thomas W. Franks' Red Raymond, winner of the James C. Ellis Juvenile and third in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile; Robert V. LaPenta's Great Point, a son of Horse of the Year Point Given who scored an impressive 8 <=-length victory="" in="" his="" belmont="" park="" debut,="" but="" failed="" to="" threaten="" in="" an="" eighth-place="" finish="" in="" the="" nashua="" (gr.="" iii);="" and="" j.="" mack="" robinson's="" hyte="" regency,="" winner="" of="" the="" harrah's="" juvenile="" breeders'="" cup="" on="" the="" grass="" at="" louisiana="">

The field for the Kentucky Jockey Club:
Post position--Horse (weight), Jocke, ML Odds
1--High Cotton (116), Robby Albarado, 3-1
2--Great Point (116), Rafael Bejarano, 5-1
3--Private Vow (120), Shaun Bridgmohan, 6-5
4--Red Raymond (118), John McKee, 20-1
5--International Cat (118), Mike Smith, 20-1
6--Catcominatcha (122), Bill Troilo, 4-1
7--Hyte Regency (122), Corey Lanerie, 10-1
8--Carse (116), Mark Guidry, 20-1

Morning Line Odds by Mike Battaglia