Mike McCarty's stalking Private Vow, making his stakes debut, won the $300,000 Futurity (gr. II) at Belmont Park Saturday in a nine-length romp under Jerry Bailey.
Bailey's main concern aboard the odds-on favorite was outsider Disco's Son, who was running loose without a rider after dropping Javier Castellano following the start. Disco's Son behaved himself while galloping with Private Vow down the lane and the 2-year-old son of Broken Vow
won while easing up as they approached the wire. The final time for the seven-furlong event was 1:24 on a fast track.
Private Vow settled in third early on the outside of the pacemaker Master of Disaster and Changing Weather after an eventful break in which Disco's Son stumbled badly coming out of the gate and lost Castellano, who was not injured.
Disco's Son took off on an inside path to the lead, creating a cat-and-mouse game between Master of Disaster and Changing Weather.
"Everything changed when that horse stumbled out of the gate," said Edgar Prado, jockey of eventual runner-up Changing Weather.
"I hate to see Javier come off, but it created a perfect scenario for me," said Bailey. "There was more speed, more of a `rabbit', and it put me in a great spot. Everyone was trying to figure out what he (Disco's Son) was doing, and it put me in the catbird seat. Even though I was losing ground, I was in a great spot."
Master of Disaster, the second choice who was coming off a second-place finish behind Henny Hughes in the Saratoga Special (gr. II), set a solid pace, going the opening quarter-mile of :22 2/5 and a half in :45 3/5 as Changing Weather edged to the front.
Master of Disaster fell back rapidly as Private Vow moved up on the outside and soon took command. Private Vow led by 5 1/2 lengths in upper stretch and pulled away from there.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, Private Vow was the only starter in the six-horse field with more than a maiden victory. He won a first-level allowance race by 5 1/2 lengths at Saratoga Aug. 29. He has now won his last three starts after debuting with a second-place finish against maidens at Churchill Downs July 3. Private Vow has earnings of $244,620.
Asmussen said that the Champagne (gr. I) for 2-year-olds at a mile at Belmont on Oct. 8, may be the next stop for Private Vow, whose ultimate goal is the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), also at Belmont, on Oct. 29.
"He's a nice, big horse," Asmussen said. "He's run better each time. I can't say how pleased I am to win a race like the Futurity. He was asked for speed in Saratoga. Today, he was asked to rate.
"I was very worried about the loose horse. Any time you see a loose horse on the lead, you get nervous, especially when it's a two-year-old. If (the loose horse) lost concentration at any point and took a right, it would have been very bad."
Mr. and Mrs. Robert A. Witt and Mr. and Mrs. Louis Scattagli bred the winner, a $180,000 Keeneland sale in April, in Kentucky. The Deputy Minister mare Smooth as Silk produced Private Vow.
He paid $3.90, $2.60, and $2.20. Changing Weather returned $4.20 and $3.20. Dixiewink, ridden by Jeremy Rose, was $3.30 to show.
Union Course, Master of Disaster, and Disco's Son trailed.