Godolphin Stable's undefeated Discreet Cat equaled the one-mile track record at Aqueduct Saturday while turning away a stubborn Silver Train leaving the eighth pole to win the $294,000 Hill 'n' Dale Cigar Mile.
It was the toughest decision of Discreet Cat's career but, in the end, it was no sweat for the bay son of Forestry
who claimed his first grade I victory by 3 1/4 lengths. The final time of 1:32 2/5 (1:32.46) equaled the clocking for Easy Goer in winning the 1989 Gotham. Discreet Cat carried high weight of 124 pounds.
With no urging from jockey Garrett Gomez, Discreet Cat cruised to the lead from pacesetter Sharp Humor at the quarter pole, but Silver Train - battling on the inside for Edgar Prado - passed him to get the lead. The two fought it out through the stretch before Discreet Cat, shaken up by Gomez at the furlong marker, pulled away. Gomez showed his blossoming star the whip a couple of times but won the race with a strong hand ride.
"I had plenty of horse in the stretch," Gomez said. "I showed him the stick a couple of times and he went about his business. He's never been hit with it. I've been excited ever since I put a leg on him. To run as fast as they ran and the way he was doing it, he's just a nice horse."
Discreet Cat, sent off at odds of 1-5 in the field of five, settled in hand behind Sharp Humor, who led by 4 1/2 lengths after an opening quarter mile of :22 3/5. As they reached the half-mile pole, Discreet Cat, three wide, and Silver Train, closing in on the rail, surrounded the pacesetter. Discreet Cat led briefly after a half in :44 4/5, but Silver Train had the advantage for Prado after six furlongs in a sharp 1:07 3/5. Silver Train stayed with Discreet Cat to the eighth pole but tired.
Badge of Silver, ridden by Javier Castellano, rallied wide and surged past Silver Train in the final strides to take second by a neck. Dixie Meister and Sharp Humor trailed.
"I wanted to be out in the clear, with him being the best horse," Gomez said. "(Sharp Humor) was getting out pretty bad and I was stuck in the middle. Halfway up the backside, I decided to drop inside. My only concern was (Badge of Silver)."
Coming off a 10 1/4-length win in the one-mile Jerome Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park, Discreet Cat has now amassed earnings of $1,554,180. He also won the UAE Derby (UAE-II) before transferring to the United States for trainer Saeed bin Suroor this spring.
"It was a good trip from Hollywood to here to win two grade Is," said bin Suroor, who saw Gomez guide Ashkal Way to victory in Friday's Citation Handicap (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park. "The horse ran this time with older horses. This gives us confidence for the future."
Discreet Cat will spend a bit of time in Florida before heading back to Dubai, where his 2007 campaign will be planned.
"The horse is always improving in his races," bin Suroor added. "He's going to run in Dubai, maybe the Maktoum Challenge before the World Cup. There is also the Godolphin Mile, but we are looking forward to the World Cup."
E. Paul Robsham bred Discreet Cat, out of the Private Account mare Pretty Discreet, in Kentucky.
Discreet Cat paid $2.50, $2.10, and $2.10. Badge of Silver, coming off a third-place showing in the NetJets Breeders's Cup Mile (gr. IT), returned $4.40 and $2.40. The exacta was worth $8.40. Silver Train paid $2.10 to show.