Broken Vow Tops Likely Field for Iselin Handicap

From Monmouth Park
Sunday's $350,000 Philip H. Iselin Handicap (G2) is likely to draw a field of five or six older horses with widely varying profiles. Some, like Sir Bear, are old pros in the stakes ranks with nothing to prove. Others, like First Lieutenant, are looking for their first added-money score and credibility in the handicap ranks.

For the starting highweight, Pin Oak Stable's Broken Vow, the mile and an eighth Iselin will determine how high is up.

"This is the telling weekend for him," trainer Graham Motion said of the 4-year-old colt. "He has to prove himself in the Iselin if he's going on to the Breeders' Cup Classic. No excuses allowed. He has to show me he's that kind of horse."

Broken Vow, a son of Unbridled, carries 119 pounds and brings a two-race win streak into the Iselin. The colt has won four of seven this year, including the Skip Away Stakes here on June 30 and the Carpenter Memorial at Delaware last out.

"We've taken a conservative approach with him," Motion said, "with the Breeders' Cup as our goal. We've picked some easy spots for him.

"But what I've seen in his last two races is that he's finally learned to relax. Edgar Prado (Broken Vow's regular rider before Ramon Dominguez took over for the last two) always said that if this horses learned to relax he'd be something else."

Broken Vow worked at Delaware Monday, breezing six furlongs in 1:13 1/5, in preparation for the Iselin.

"That was one of his better works of the year," Motion said. "His last race wasn't as easy as I hoped, but he came out of it super.

"If he runs big this weekend in the Iselin, he doesn't have anything more to prove to me that he's ready to go on to the Breeders' Cup."

Ramon Dominguez, who has ridden Broken Vow in his last two scores, will be back aboard for the Iselin.

G. Watts Humphrey Jr.'s First Lieutenant, had his final prep for Sunday's race at Monmouth Wednesday morning, breezing a half-mile over the fast main track in :50 4/5.

"He blew out nicely," said trainer Phil Oliver. "His works coming into this race have all been good."

First Lieutenant, a 4-year-old son of Sea Hero, has won five of his eight lifetime starts, including all three this season. In his only previous stakes appearance, First Lieutenant was fifth behind Thistyranthasclass in the Long Branch Breeders' Cup Stakes here last year.

Oliver said Mark Guidry will have the mount on First Lieutenant for the first time on Sunday. First Lieutenant gets in at 114 pounds.

Barbara Smollin's Sir Bear, the 8-year-old gelding who was second in last year's Iselin, arrived at the Monmouth Park backstretch today. The son of Sir Leon, who has earned more than $2.3 million in his 60-race career, will carry 117 pounds Sunday. He toted 118 when he was beaten nine lengths by Rize in the 2000 Iselin.

Rize, trained by Norman Pointer, will not return to defend his Iselin title.

"He's not up to snuff," Pointer said. "I worked him the other day and I wasn't happy with the way he went. He won't be running anywhere for a while."

Other prospective Iselin starters include Elite Mercedes, who carries 113; Call It Off, 113, and Polish Miner, 112. Still a possibility is North East Bound, who would be obliged to pick up 118 pounds.