Expectations were great last year for Discreet Cat, who looked like he would be the next Godolphin Racing superstar. But the 4-year-old Forestry colt has only run twice this year heading into the inaugural Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile Oct. 26 at Monmouth Park, and there is a big question about whether he has regained his former brilliant form.
"To me, he's similar to when he ran in the (Hill 'n' Dale) Cigar Mile (gr. I)," Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor said Oct. 25 during a brief visit to Monmouth before returning to England for the weekend.
In the Cigar last November, Discreet Cat remained undefeated with his sixth consecutive career win while defeating Badge of Silver by 3 1/4 lengths. It was an impressive showing by a 3-year-old against older horses, and Discreet Cat headed overseas to seek more glory. But in the Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) in March, the colt finished a disappointing seventh in the field of seven runners.
"It was a big shock for me," Suroor said. "He was coughing like one week before the race. We examined him just to be sure there was nothing wrong with him, and he was clean, sound, and healthy--no problem at all. I was going into the race with confidence, even though it was a new distance for him, a mile-and-a-quarter."
Immediately after the World Cup, Discreet Cat underwent an endoscopic throat examination.
"We found a spot," Suroor said. "It was really big, with swelling and infection. It was big enough to stop him from breathing really well. The veterinarian said, 'This is the reason (he lost); he can't breathe.'"
Returned to this country, Discreet Cat didn't run again until Sept. 30, finishing third in the six-furlong Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park. On Oct. 21 at Belmont, the colt worked five furlongs in a sizzling :57.46. It was the fastest of 25 works at that distance that day.
"It wasn't really what we looking for, but this kind of horse, they do it in an easy way," Suroor said. "He came back really well after the work and looked fresh and happy. Today in his canter, there was no problem. He's training well. He is in good form, very good. He looks much better than before he ran in the Vosburgh. The distance (the Dirt's one mile, 70 yards), it will suit him, and so far we’re happy with him. He's ready to go."
Discreet Cat has the post one for the Dirt Mile, but Suroor indicated he wasn't worrying too much about the colt being on the rail.
"This horse has speed. He can take any position he likes," Suroor said. "We are expecting to see a good run."