07/19/2001 12:00AM

Broken Vow takes a breather

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STANTON, Del. - Trainer Graham Motion is keeping the faith. Although Broken Vow failed as the favorite in what many handicappers viewed as a critical test, the Massachusetts Handicap, Motion still believes Broken Vow could wind up proving himself as one of the top older horses in North America this year.

Saturday, in his second start since the June 2 Mass Cap, Broken Vow will be a heavy favorite in the $100,000 R.R.M. Carpenter Jr. Stakes, the first of six stakes to be run at Delaware Park this weekend.

The Mass Cap, in which Broken Vow finished a tired third behind Include and Sir Bear, "took me a long time to get over," said Motion, whose large stable is split between Delaware and Laurel Park. "I think his defeat was a state of circumstances, a combination of the [sloppy] track and the way the race set up."

In his only start since the Mass Cap, Broken Vow easily won the Skip Away Stakes at Monmouth Park, once again revealing the kind of brilliance that has given Motion such great hope. Broken Vow, a 4-year-old Unbridled colt bred and owned by Pin Oak Stable, has run several races that seemingly put him among the elite of the handicap class.

"I do believe he's that kind of horse," said Motion.

The 1 1/16-mile Carpenter, said Motion, will serve as a prep for the Grade 2 Iselin Handicap at Monmouth on Aug. 26. Motion said he chose the Carpenter for Broken Vow because the colt trains under Motion's assistant, David Rock, at Delaware, "and we thought it would be good for the local fans to see him run." Also, "we want to get him to the end of the year without having to knock heads every time with the very best. We're looking at the long term."

Five other horses are entered in the Carpenter, which is carded as the fourth of 10 Saturday races. Connected, a sharp winner at Churchill Downs in his last start, is the most formidable challenger. The others are Cat's at Home, Jarf, Grundlefoot, and Estio.

Female turf stakes wide open

The other co-feature, the $100,000 Robert Dick Memorial, is far more contentious. Nine filly and mare turfers will clash at 1 3/8 miles, and better than half of the field rates serious consideration.

Possible favorites include New Assembly, unraced since April for Bill Mott; Amourette, winner of the Lady Baltimore in her last start; and Seattle Bay, winner of a local allowance race for Jonathan Sheppard.

Both the Carpenter and Dick Memorials are named for former chairmen of the Delaware Racing Commission.