By Alan Porter
Only the width of Afleet Express’s flared nostril prevented an historic double at Saratoga on Aug. 28. Just more than half an hour after Discreetly Mine had dominated a group of his peers in the seven-furlong King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO), his paternal half brother Fly Down came desperately close to catching the Afleet Alex colt Afleet Express at the finish of the Travers Stakes (gr. I). Discreetly Mine and Fly Down are both from the third crop sired by 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft , and had Fly Down scored, it would have marked the first time that a stallion has been represented by the winner of Saratoga’s premier 3-year-old sprint and middle-distance events in the same year.
Fly Down, who won the Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) and ran second in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) earlier in the year, is the sort of horse that Mineshaft has been expected to sire. By A.P. Indy out of Mr. Prospector’s grade I-winning daughter (and 2003 Broodmare of the Year) Prospectors Delite, Mineshaft spent his 2-year-old season and most of his 3-year-old season running on turf in Europe. Running on dirt at 4, Mineshaft was the year’s dominant performer, capturing six graded stakes, including the Woodward Stakes, Suburban Handicap, Pimlico Special, and Jockey Club Gold Cup (all gr. I), and as a result becoming the only U.S. Horse of the Year to represent his sire to date.
Mineshaft’s first crop didn’t quite come up to the highest expectations, producing five stakes winners, including grade II winners Cool Coal Man and Casino Drive (who would have been a major contender for the 2008 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) but for an injury prior to the race), and grade III winner Coal Play. However, his offspring have quite quickly set about rebuilding their sire’s reputation. The second crop, now 4, yielded seven stakes winners, headed by this year’s Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III) captor Redding Colliery. There are already five stakes winners in his third crop; in addition to Discreetly Mine and Fly Down, they also include the stakes winner and multiple grade I-placed filly Bonnie Blue Flag.
We mentioned that Fly Down, one of the top classic distance performers of his year, was the type of horse that Mineshaft was expected to sire when he retired to stud. His other 3-year-old star, Discreetly Mine, is more of an anomaly of both aptitude and pedigree. He entered many notebooks as a potential classic contender after concluding his juvenile season with seconds to D’Funnybone in the Futurity Stakes (gr. II) and to Homeboykris in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I). Discreetly Mine consolidated his appeal as a 2010 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) prospect with a wire-to-wire win in the 8½-furlong Risen Star Stakes (gr. II). Although he was only fourth in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), Discreetly Mine took his chance in the Derby, but came home a distant 13th.
Dropped into the seven-furlong Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II), Discreetly Mine hinted that sprinting might be his game with a good second to D’Funnybone. Since then, he’s confirmed that view with successive wins in the six-furlong Jersey Shore Stakes (gr. III), the 6½-furlong Amsterdam Stakes (gr. II), and the seven-furlong King’s Bishop (gr. I). And he’s not just a sprinter, but he also has tremendous early speed, as evidenced by his :21.9 and :44.1 set on the lead in his latest outing.
Just how confounding Discreetly Mine is from a pedigree standpoint can be illustrated by the fact that we would have expected him to have coped with the 1½ miles of the Belmont rather than to find that the best expression of talents appears to be over distances little more than half of that classic. Not only did Mineshaft—a son of a Belmont Stakes winner, who himself had Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Secretariat as his sire and maternal grandsire—excel at 10 furlongs, but his dam, Pretty Discreet (by stamina influence Private Account), scored her most important victory in the 10-furlong Alabama Stakes (gr. I). Pretty Discreet produced another exceptional runner in Discreet Cat (by King’s Bishop winner Forestry ), but he recorded his graded stakes wins at eight and nine furlongs. We can note that to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Wild Again, Pretty Discreet also produced Pretty Wild, who gained a six-furlong victory in the 2005 Mr. Prospector Stakes. Pretty Discreet is also granddam of three other stakes winners, including Awesome Maria, who won the Matron Stakes (gr. II) and placed in the Frizette Stakes (gr. I) in 2009.
Pretty Discreet’s dam, Pretty Persuasive, was unplaced in a single start and produced only two starters. However, she was a sister to Buryyourbelief, winner of the nine-furlong Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). Pretty Persuasive was by Believe It, winner of the nine-furlong Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) and third to Affirmed and Alydar in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (both gr. I), out of the unraced Bury the Hatchet, a daughter of 1965 champion 3-year-old Tom Rolfe, who was third in the Kentucky Derby, winner of the Preakness and runner-up in the Belmont Stakes. Discreetly Mine’s fourth dam, Christmas Wishes, was stakes-placed at 8½ furlongs and is by Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Northern Dancer, out of Happy Mood, by English Derby winner Mahmoud. Christmas Wishes is a sister to the 1969 Canadian Oaks victress Cool Mood, the ancestress of numerous talented performers, including With Approval, Touch Gold (a Belmont Stakes winner, who sired grade I-winning sprinters Midas Eyes and Mass Media), Serenading, Izvestia, Key Spirit, Hedonist, Seeking Daylight, Healthy Addiction, and Haynesfield .
Discreetly Mine (who is rated A++ by TrueNicks) is an outcross at four generations, but at five generations has Buckpasser 5x4x5 and Tom Rolfe 5x4. He has significant concentrations of La Troienne, as well. None of this really explains Discreetly Mine’s brilliant speed, however, and for the moment—from the standpoint of pedigree vs. aptitude—he stands as a stark enigma. The puzzle will extend to Discreetly Mine’s stud career, for while he is undoubtedly a very exciting stallion prospect, one has to wonder whether he will pass on the brilliant speed that he displayed on the track, the stamina latent in his pedigree, or both.