Discreet Cat Ready to Pounce in Jerome 'Cap

(from Belmont Park report)
The untested, unbeaten and so far brilliant Discreet Cat puts his unblemished record on the line in Sunday's $150,000 Jerome Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at one mile.

Five others were also entered in the Jerome, although that number could shrink if the Bob Baffert-trained Quietly Go runs in Saturday's third race at Belmont Park.

Given the dominating performances by Discreet Cat to this point, some people might have thought this 136th Jerome – second only to the Travers as the oldest stakes race in this country for 3-year-olds -- would be a walkover.

Perfect in four starts, Discreet Cat has won his races by a combined 24 ½ lengths. He's won over two different tracks, at four different distances, on the lead and stalking the pace. In a short time, Discreet Cat has shown that the two furlongs of dirt between the quarter pole and finish line is his zone. No horse has gotten close to beating him.

"He's one of those horses that gives you a 'Wow' every time he runs," jockey Garrett Gomez said.

By Forestry, Discreet Cat burst onto the scene last summer at Saratoga with a take-no-prisoners wire-to-wire maiden score on Travers Day. His winning six-furlong time of 1:09 3/5 created a buzz and caused Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum to open his wallet.

Days after Discreet Cat broke his maiden, the colt was sold to Sheikh Maktoum for an undisclosed amount.

The colt's winter campaign in Dubai was a solid 2-for-2. He was exceptionally strong in the March 25 U.A.E. Derby (UAE-II), a race in which he outran 12 horses, among them Invasor, who has since developed into perhaps the top older horse in America with grade I victories in the Pimlico Special, Suburban and Whitney handicaps. Discreet Cat is the only horse to have ever beaten Invasor in nine starts.

"I think Invasor has probably improved a lot since that race, but Discreet Cat was very good in there," said Rick Mettee, who is trainer Saeed bin Suroor's New York assistant. "The scary thing is Discreet Cat has probably improved since the U.A.E. Derby, too."

Hoping to compete in Saratoga's Travers (gr. I), the Sheikh shipped Discreet Cat back to America in the spring. Unfortunately, a series of minor setbacks hampered the colt's training.

"This isn't the program we had set up for him – allowance races and the Jerome – but once he got sick it changed everything," Mettee said. "We had to do the right thing by him. We'll see how he gets on in this race."

Discreet Cat returned to the races Aug. 25 at Saratoga. Discreet Cat won as he pleased, running away from a decent group of older allowance horses to win by 11 lengths. His seven-furlong time of 1:21 2/5 was the fastest performance of the Saratoga meet. Gomez never moved a muscle.

"He actually surprised me with the move he made," Gomez said. "He did everything on his own."

Discreet Cat has breezed three times since his last race, most recently breezing five furlongs at Belmont on Sept. 25 in :59 3/5.

Current plans call for Discreet Cat to run once more this season in Aqueduct's $300,000 Hill 'n' Dale Cigar Mile (gr. I) on Nov. 25.

Discreet Cat drew post 2 carrying top weight of 124 pounds.

None of Discreet Cat's challengers stick out on paper, although the Pat Reynolds-trained Valid Notebook enters the Jerome off a powerful second-level allowance win.

$150,000 Jerome Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II, Race 9, 5:12 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Quietly Go (KY), 114, Edgar S. Prado
2. Discreet Cat (KY), 124, Garrett K. Gomez
3. Nar (FL), 113, Cornelio H. Velasquez
4. Spring At Last (KY), 112, Michael J. Luzzi
5. Noonmark (KY), 115, John R. Velazquez
6. Valid Notebook (FL), 114, Javier Castellano