12/02/2005 1:00AM

Broken Vow hits ground running as stallion


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes added a bit of polish to the juvenile season of the promising graded stakes winner Private Vow. A bay son of freshman sire Broken Vow, Private Vow had won the Futurity Stakes at Belmont in September and had been one of the favorites in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, but he finished last.

There was, however, a legitimate excuse for that disappointment. During the Juvenile, the left rein on the colt's bridle broke, causing a loss of balance, momentum, and any chance of a competitive placing.

Savvy race-watchers were not put off by that misfortune when Private Vow came to Churchill Downs. In the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, Private Vow was the odds-on choice and won the race by 2 1/4 lengths.

One of the most promising juvenile colts going two turns, Private Vow is the first stakes winner for his sire, the Unbridled stallion Broken Vow. Bred and raced by Josephine Abercrombie's Pin Oak Stud, Broken Vow has an initial crop of 85 2-year-olds, with a dozen winners to date.

Clifford Barry, the manager of Pin Oak, said that for 2006, Broken Vow is "basically booked full, and we're trying to take care of people who've bred to him the past couple of years. Especially with Private Vow coming on so early, the sire's been an exciting horse for us to have our hands on, and he's bred sizable books of mares each year.

"We depend on the commercial market to fill the book of mares for our horses, and Mrs. Abercrombie's philosophy has been to leave a little on the table for the breeders, and that has served us in good stead about this horse and others, like Maria's Mon," sire of Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos.

Unlike Maria's Mon, who was a champion at 2, Broken Vow was unraced as a juvenile but showed very good form as he matured. With so many winners and a good stakes winner from his first crop, "Broken Vow gives you a great feeling that he's only going to get better," Barry said. "We've watched his offspring closely all year, and he has 73 or 74 from of the first crop out there working. Their soundness is one thing that impresses me."

With his early success as a sire, Broken Vow is yet another son of Unbridled who is proving his value to the breed. Other good young sons of Unbridled who have not yet had racers include classic winners Red Bullet and Empire Maker, and Grade 1 winner Eddington will cover his first mares in 2006.

Unbridled's best proven son at stud is Unbridled's Song. In addition to their athletic ability, both Unbridled's Song and Broken Vow showed considerable speed. Barry noted that Broken Vow "preferred to race close to the pace, and Graham Motion said that speed was his weapon."

The combination of speed and a rich pedigree is something breeders will not ignore, as indicated by the strong early patronage for Broken Vow.

Among the breeders who sent mares to the young stallion's initial book were Robert and Geri Witt along with Louis and Denise Scattaglia, the four of whom bred Private Vow.

A winner in 4 of his 6 starts, Private Vow has earned $382,508 for owner Mike McCarty, who bought Private Vow as a 2-year-old in training for $180,000 at the 2005 Keeneland April sale from Terry Oliver, agent. Oliver had purchased Private Vow for $77,000 from the consignment of Ashleigh Stud at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2004.

Located just north of Paris, Ky., Ashleigh is owned by Frank and Jackie Ramos. They foaled Private Vow at Ashleigh for the Witts and Scattaglias, and the colt is the second generation of horses the partners have had bred and raised at Ashleigh.

The Witts and Scattaglias raced Sacque, the stakes-winning second dam of Private Vow. An English-bred daughter of Elegant Air, Sacque won three stakes in the States, one at the graded level. After her racing career, Sacque was retired to stud by the owners, with a few of the mare's foals being retained.

One of those is Private Vow's dam, the Deputy Minister mare Smooth as Silk, who is boarded at Ashleigh. Described as a medium-sized mare who was a little light in training but has filled out to be nice broodmare, Smooth as Silk was probably the best racehorse out of her dam, having won 2 of 8 races and earning $74,620.

Jackie Ramos, giving her reasoning for selecting Broken Vow for Smooth as Silk, said: "I like Broken Vow. He puts good substance into a horse. He has a bit of size to him, and the Unbridled cross seemed to suit. Private Vow was the second foal from the mare, and we sold him for $77,000, which we were pleased about. I've bred to Broken Vow every year and will breed one of my mares back again this year."

Smooth as Silk is the dam of a full brother to Private Vow born this year in February and is in foal to Monashee Mountain on a March cover. She will be bred to Unbridled's Song in 2006.