New Year’s Eve offered a gripping battle between Scat Daddy and Hard Spun for the title of leading freshman sire. Through the day, the balance swung in favor of the prospects of one, then the other, and at one stage appeared to have been decided by a disqualification for place honors in a maiden special weight at Turfway Park. Ultimately, however, it was Scat Daddy who emerged as the victor by prize money, as well as by individual winners, stakes winners, and stakes horses.
Some way behind the leaders, back in 15th on the table, came Scat Daddy’s fellow Storm Cat-line horse Discreet Cat. Behind all the action at the sharp end, Discreet Cat’s first season had passed almost unnoticed, although he did post 20 individual winners from 51 starters, which placed him third behind only Scat Daddy and Hard Spun among freshman in that category. And in the final month of the year, those paying attention might have begun to notice some “watch this space” indication.
On Dec. 3, Discreet Cat’s son Discreet Dancer caught the eye when setting a track record for 5½ furlongs at Gulfstream Park on his racecourse debut. A few hours earlier, another Discreet Cat son, Qismah, had taken his record to 2-for-2, winning the Poinsettia Sho—considered a stakes races in Japan, but not eligible for black type under international cataloging standards—over seven furlongs at Hanshin. A week later, a third Discreet Cat son, Out of Bounds, caught the eye when taking a Hollywood Park maiden special weight on his second racecourse appearance.
The Discreet Cat bandwagon picked up further during the first weekend of 2012. On the West Coast, Out of Bounds earned the first stakes win for his sire, closing powerfully to catch Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint (gr. I) victor Secret Circle Jan. 7 in the Sham Stakes (gr. III). A little earlier at Gulfstream Park, Discreet Dancer demonstrated he could develop into something more than a sprinter, taking his record to 2-for-2 with a 5½-length score in a one-mile allowance optional claiming event.
Of course in assessing the nascent stallion career of Discreet Cat, we should bear in mind his own race record. The son of Forestry and the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) heroine Pretty Discreet—also dam of grade I-winning sprinter Discreetly Mine—started only once at 2, winning a six-furlong maiden at Saratoga by 3½ lengths. Purchased privately after that race by Godolphin from his breeder, the late E. Paul Robsham, Discreet Cat wasn’t seen again in public until the following March at Nad Al Sheeba, when he scored by four lengths in one-mile prep for the S & M Al Naboodah Group UAE Derby (UAE-II). He was even more impressive in the classic itself, taking the nine-furlong event by six lengths from a field that included subsequent horse of the year Invasor.
Returned to the U.S., Discreet Cat did not reappear until August in Saratoga, where he had 11 lengths to spare at the finish of a seven-furlong allowance optional claiming contest. Tried against older horses in the Jerome Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II), he led throughout for a 10¼-length victory. Discreet Cat ended his second season in a blaze of glory, producing a sensational display in the Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile (gr. I). Giving weight to some well-credentialed older horses, he was pressured through fractions of :44.63 and 1:07.75, but shook loose to win by 3¼ lengths while stopping the clock at 1:32.46, just fractions off the world record for a mile on dirt jointly held by Dr. Fager and Najran. This effort earned Discreet Cat an official rating with his classic-winning stable companion, Bernardini , as the world’s co-leading 3-year-old.
Discreet Cat returned to action in Dubai the following year, attempting to stretch his speed over the 10 furlongs of the Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (UAE-I). Coming into the race off an interrupted preparation, Discreet Cat failed to fire, trailing home last behind Invasor, and was subsequently found to have a throat abscess. Given a lengthy break, Discreet Cat returned in the Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) and finished third, beaten six lengths. His farewell performance came in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile over a rain-drenched Monmouth Park strip, where he finished third to runaway winner Corinthian , without ever threatening. Retired to stud at Darley for $30,000, Discreet Cat is advertised at $12,500 for 2012, and we imagine that he will be attracting plenty of action after the weekend efforts of Out of Bounds and Discreet Dancer.
Out of Bounds has exceptional talent on both sides of his pedigree. His dam, Unbridled Elaine, a member of the first crop of Unbridled's Song, captured the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I). Bred to Discreet Cat’s sire, Forestry, Unbridled Elaine produced the talented but lightly-raced Etched, winner of seven of his nine starts in the U.S., including the Monmouth Cup Stakes and Meadowlands Cup Stakes (both gr. II). Unbridled Elaine is a half sister to the grade I-winning millionairess Glitter Woman, who produced Unbridled Elaine’s close relative, the Suburban Handicap (gr. I) victor Political Force, when bred to Unbridled’s Song. Another half sister, the Seattle Dancer mare Gwenjinsky, is dam of six winners, including the multiple grade II winner Lead Story.
Discreet Dancer, who was bred by the E. Paul Robsham Stable, is also out of a proven producer. His dam, the Gone West matron West Side Dancer, is dam of the fast Trippi colt Travelin Man, winner last year of the Swale Stakes (gr. II). His granddam, Bering Cruise, is a Danzig half sister to the Sanford Stakes (gr. II) victor Bite the Bullet, to stakes winner Shuailaan, and to Love Me True, dam of European champion older horse Duke of Marmalade (by Danehill, a son of Bering Cruise’s sire, Danzig). The third dam, Lassie’s Lady, is by Alydar out of the great tap-root mare Lassie Dear, and so is half-sister to numerous good runners and producers, including European champion older horse Wolfhound; Weekend Surprise, a multiple graded stakes winner who numbers A.P. Indy and Summer Squall among her offspring; and Charming Lassie, dam of champion older horse and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Lemon Drop Kid .
Out of Bounds, Discreet Dancer, and the emerging Japanese runner Qismah are all bred on a cross of Discreet Dancer over mares from the Mr. Prospector line. When Forestry retired to stud his pedigree—by Storm Cat, and with a third dam who was closely related to the dam of Mr. Prospector—suggested that Mr. Prospector-line mares would work well under him. In broad terms, that hasn’t really proved to be the case, and from 233 starters out of Mr. Prospector-line mares, Forestry has sired 11 stakes winners (4.7%). Of course, it may be that when a cross is as apparently obvious as Forestry/Mr. Prospector it is often deployed without the care or regard to physical type that otherwise might be employed. It’s also not unusual to find that crosses that are not as good physically as they are on paper, work better a generation or two down the line.
Out of Bounds is actually a product of a subset of the Mr. Prospector line that has proved more profitable for Forestry, that of mares from the male line of Fappiano (Fappiano is by Mr. Prospector out of a Dr. Fager mare, where Forestry’s granddam is by Dr. Fager out of a mare who shared the same cross of sons of Nasrullah over daughters of Sequence as Mr. Prospector’s dam). The cross of Forestry over Fappiano-line mares has produced five stakes winners from 58 starters (8.6%), including the previously-mentioned Etched and the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) victor and Eclipse Award candidate Shackleford. Out of Bounds not only has two crosses of Dr. Fager, but also three of In Reality, who is out of champion 2-year-old filly My Dear Girl, the best daughter of Dr. Fager’s sire, Rough’n Tumble. Discreet Dancer not only has Mr. Prospector, but also Alydar, a horse whose dam has a similar background to both Bold Sequence (third dam of Forestry) and Gold Digger (dam of Mr. Prospector). Qismah’s dam (by Jade Robbery) also features Alydar (his third dam is Alydar’s champion juvenile filly Althea). However, her pedigree is also interesting for having Nijinsky II (a horse with a very similar background to Discreet Cat’s male-line ancestor Storm Bird) 3x2.