10/30/2007 11:00PM

Perfect Vow sharpened for return

EmailOZONE PARK, N.Y. - Once upon a time, trainer Danny Peitz thought Perfect Vow could have taken him back to the Kentucky Derby.

But an injury Perfect Vow sustained after his maiden win at Oaklawn Park stopped that dream before it began. Now, Peitz is hoping he can develop Perfect Vow into a top-flight older horse next year, a journey that begins Friday in a first-level allowance at Aqueduct.

Though the six-furlong distance of Friday's race isn't ideal for Perfect Vow, the way the colt has been working lately indicates that any distance may be good for him right now.

"He's more than capable of winning the race,'' Peitz said. "Two turns is definitely better, but if there's enough speed he could reel them in.''

Perfect Vow, a son of Broken Vow, looked like he was going to win his maiden over the inner track last Nov. 18, but he blew a lead inside the furlong pole and was beaten a neck by Sir Whimsey. According to Peitz, Perfect Vow was getting out in his training at Oaklawn prior to his seasonal debut, so he put blinkers on the colt. He ran off in a one-mile maiden race on Feb. 24 and finished second, beaten nine lengths.

Peitz flew in an acupuncture specialist from New York who found a problem with Perfect Vow's neck. With that fixed and with blinkers off, Perfect Vow won a 1 1/16-mile maiden race by 2 1/2 lengths on March 17. Off that race, Peitz was pointing his colt to the Arkansas Derby and a meeting with Curlin. A second or third behind Curlin could have gotten him and owners Robert and Lawana Low back to the Kentucky Derby, where they finished third in 2006 with Steppenwolfer.

But Perfect Vow was found to have a strain in his knee and was sidelined until August. Four of his last five workouts have been bullet moves, including a five-furlong drill in 58.76 seconds on Oct. 15 over the Belmont training track.

There appears to be ample speed in this field with Jamaican Kev, Speedball Howie, and Interest Rate all drawn to Perfect Vow's inside. Unaffected, drawn in post 6, also has some early speed.

Richland Creek, making his first start for D. Wayne Lukas, is another closer worth considering. He finished third behind Americanus in a swiftly run first-level allowance on Sept. 15.