03/28/2006 12:00AM

Private Vow looks on improve for derby


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Private Vow strongly suggested on Tuesday he will move forward off his seasonal debut, a seventh-place finish in the Grade 3 Rebel, when he breezed five furlongs in company in a bullet 1:00.34 at Oaklawn Park. The move was his first since the March 18 Rebel, and was part of his preparation for the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 15.

Private Vow came onto the track after the renovation break and backtracked to the eighth pole while accompanied by a pony ridden by his trainer, Steve Asmussen. He went into his drill sitting just off of Grade 3-winning workmate Real Dandy, who was on the rail. Clockers tracked them through an opening eighth of a mile in 12.05 seconds, a quarter in 23.79, and three furlongs in 36.42. They finished together at the wire, and their work was the co-fastest of 17 at the distance Tuesday.

"He worked quicker than I hoped, [but] he came back fine," said Asmussen. "He seemed to do it well within himself. He came out of it in fine fashion."

Donnie Meche was aboard Private Vow, who is scheduled to be ridden in the Arkansas Derby by Shaun Bridgmohan.

Private Vow won Grade 2 races around one turn and two turns last year, capturing the Futurity at seven furlongs at Belmont and the Kentucky Jockey Club at 1 1/16 miles at Churchill. In the Rebel, he finished 7 1/4 lengths behind the winner, Lawyer Ron, a leading Kentucky Derby candidate.

"I expected a better showing from him," said Asmussen. "He got tired. He was exhausted when he came back, but he recovered fairly quickly. I think that he's got plenty of miles in him, so it didn't knock him out."

Asmussen said Private Vow was "jumping and kicking and playing" his second day back to the track last Thursday. He has continued to train well here since the Rebel.

Asmussen said Private Vow will possibly have two more works before the Arkansas Derby. The colt was flattered last weekend when High Cotton, the runner-up in the Kentucky Jockey Club, was a dominant winner of the $100,000 Rushaway at Turfway. Private Vow races for Mike McCarty.

Options for Brownie Points

Brownie Points, the runner-up to Ermine in the $75,000 Honeybee for 3-year-old fillies here last Saturday, came out of the race in good order and has a couple of options for her next start, said her trainer, Donnie Von Hemel.

"We've got the two races here the last week, the Fantasy and the Instant Racing, so we'll hopefully run in one of those," said Von Hemel.

The Grade 2, $250,000 Fantasy at 1 1/16 miles will be run on April 14. The $100,000 Instant Racing Breeders' Cup at one mile will be run on April 15. Earlier this meet, Brownie Points won the $50,000 Martha Washington.

Oaklawn GM to speak at banquet

Eric Jackson, general manager of Oaklawn, will be the guest speaker at the Arkansas Thoroughbred Breeders and Horsemen's Association annual meeting and awards banquet Saturday, said executive director Deana Echols. The meeting site has been moved to the Arlington Hotel.

* Rich Fantasy is a candidate for the $100,000 Meafara Breeders' Cup for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs at Hawthorne on April 8, said her trainer, Ronny Werner. Rich Fantasy won the Showtime Deb at Hawthorne last year and is coming off a second in the Dixie Belle and a fifth in the Martha Washington here.

* With Distinction, a candidate for the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap, worked five furlongs in 1:01 here Tuesday.