Discreet Cat Faces Big Challenge in Cigar Mile

Discreet Cat Faces Big Challenge in Cigar Mile
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Discreet Cat faces tough competition in Saturday's Cigar Mile.
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(from Aqueduct report)
Three weeks after the Breeders' Cup World Championships, a horse that many people feel may be the best to step foot on a racetrack this year faces his most difficult assignment yet in Saturday's $300,000 Hill 'n' Dale Cigar Mile (gr. I).

There has been a buzz surrounding 3-year-old Discreet Cat ever since the colt's smashing maiden win at Saratoga last summer. He was sold to Godolphin following his lone juvenile start and has yet to be defeated in four strong races this year.

While Discreet Cat is highly regarded, for the most part the competition that he has faced has not – until Saturday.

Only four rivals will square off against Discreet Cat, who drew post four with Garrett Gomez to ride carrying high weight of 124 pounds. They include a Breeders' Cup Sprint and Metropolitan Mile (both gr. I) winner, the 2004 Cigar Mile (gr. I) runner-up, and a horse who came within a half-length of beating Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Barbaro earlier this year.

"This will be by far his toughest race," said Rick Mettee, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

After dealing with some minor issues as the result of shipping back to America following his six-length win in the UAE Derby (UAE-II), Discreet Cat finally resurfaced in a third-level allowance at Saratoga Aug. 25 and ran away to another clear victory against an overmatched field.

Discreet Cat's first American stakes try came in the Jerome Breeders' Cup (gr. II), and he did not let his backers down. Sent off at odds of 1-20, he demolished four rivals.

"I was a little disappointed the Jerome came up as easy as it did," Mettee said. "I wanted a little more of a test for him. He'll get that test Saturday, and we'll finally be able to have a barometer on him. It's time for him to be pushed.

"He's going to face Silver Train - a Breeders' Cup Sprint and Met Mile winner - and Badge of Silver, who comes off a good race and ran well in the Cigar two years ago."

Following the Cigar, Discreet Cat will be sent to Payson Park in Indiantown, Fla., on Tuesday, where he will be quarantined for a month before shipping back to Dubai in late December.

Silver Train comes off an uncharacteristic performance in Belmont Park's Vosburgh (gr. I) in which he finished last of five and never threatened. His connections found no excuses and are hoping the Vosburgh was just an illusion.

"I was shocked at the way he ran," said jockey Edgar Prado. "He was training super going into the race. He broke well, but when I asked him, he never picked it up."

Considering he had not started in 10 months, Badge of Silver ran a huge race to be third in the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) earlier this month at Churchill Downs. The 6-year-old ran second in the 2004 Cigar, but failed to mount a rally as the 2-1 favorite in last year's running, finishing eighth.

Sharp Humor also recently returned from a lengthy layoff to run well, missing by a neck to Gold and Roses in the Hudson. After winning the Swale (gr. II) earlier this year, he missed by one-half length to Barbaro in the Florida Derby (gr. I). Sharp Humor could prove to be the main speed in the Cigar.

$300,000 Hill 'n' Dale Cigar Mile Handicap (gr. I, Race 8, 3:48 p.m.), 3 & Up
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Badge of Silver (KY), 117, Javier Castellano
2. Silver Train (KY), 120, Edgar Prado
3. Dixie Meister (TX), 117, Fernando Jara
4. Discreet Cat (KY), 124, Garrett Gomez
5. Sharp Humor (NY), 115, Cornelio Velasquez

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