11/27/2006 12:00AM

Discreet Cat inspires anticipation

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Discreet Cat, winning Saturday's Cigar Mile, will point for a race at Nad Al Sheba on March 31.

In his first start in a Grade 1 race, Discreet Cat, 3, equaled Easy Goer's 17-year-old track record by running one mile in 1:32.46. He carried 124 pounds, spotting four to eight pounds to a field that included older graded stakes winners Silver Train and Badge of Silver. Discreet Cat raced right up on the pace through six furlongs in 1:07.75 and drew away from Silver Train and Badge of Silver without feeling the whip from jockey Garrett Gomez. Discreet Cat, who is now 6 for 6, earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 116.

"That race stamped him probably as much as anything he'll ever do again," said Rick Mettee, the Godolphin Racing assistant who has overseen Discreet Cat's training since he arrived in the U.S. in mid-April. "That may be the race you'll always remember of his."

A son of Grade 1 winners Forestry and Pretty Discreet, Discreet Cat will get a chance to make new memories in 2007. After serving a 30-day quarantine period beginning Wednesday at Payson Park, a training center in Indiantown, Fla., he will return to Dubai for the winter.

While Discreet Cat will be pointed for a race at Nad Al Sheba on March 31, it is unclear whether that race will be the $6 million Dubai World Cup at 1 1/4 miles - the stated objective of Breeders' Cup Classic winner Invasor - or the $1 million Godolphin Mile. Following Saturday's race, trainer Saeed bin Suroor mentioned both as a possibility. If Discreet Cat runs in the World Cup, he would likely prepare for it in one of the Dubai Carnival racing programs, either in early February or early March. If he runs in the Godolphin Mile, that could very well be his first start of 2007.

Being successful at 1 1/4 miles may be the last question Discreet Cat has to answer.

"I still think it's going to be a question mark whether he gets the mile and a quarter," Mettee said. "Any horse that has a cruising speed of 1:07-and-three and can run a mile [in 1:32.46] - how many horses do you see do that and still run a mile and a quarter? Precisionist is one, off the top of my head, that was a good sprinter and who got the mile and a quarter."

Precisionist was the champion sprinter of 1985, winning the Breeders' Cup Sprint the same year he won Grade 1 stakes at nine and 10 furlongs.

Gomez, who has ridden Discreet Cat in his last three starts, said he believes anything is possible for Discreet Cat.

"He's really a phenomenal horse," said Gomez. "He's a very athletic horse, and he's a very smart horse, and I see bright things for him in the future. He does things so effortlessly. When I first sat on his back at Saratoga, I've never seen a horse really move like this. I'm glad he's able to start showing the crowds and the people what kind of animal he is."

In the Cigar Mile, Discreet Cat found himself in a spirited duel with 2005 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Silver Train. The two went through six furlongs in 1:07.65. That was more of a test than Mettee was looking for when he said he hoped Discreet Cat would be pushed.

"I was concerned when I saw the [1:07.65]," he said. "I could see somebody just grinding him down on the outside, because you just don't know how a horse is going to respond to that, especially a horse that has had two easy races like that. To beat older horses the way he did, spotting them weight, that was a pretty big performance, needless to say."

On Monday morning, Mettee said he was quite pleased with how Discreet Cat came out of the race.

"I thought it would knock him out a little more than it did," he said. "Mind you, I wouldn't want to wheel him back in three weeks."

Though Discreet Cat must do 30 days in quarantine, he will be able to remain in light training. Mettee said Discreet Cat will most likely walk under tack for a few weeks and won't do any galloping until perhaps a few days before he departs for Dubai.

Discreet Cat will most likely return to New York in mid- to late April. He most likely won't return to the races until later in the Belmont meet or early at Saratoga.

"Saratoga would be the logical place for him to come back," said Mettee, who mentioned the Tom Fool in early July at Belmont as a possible return if Discreet Cat got ready early. "I don't think you'll see him leave New York before the Breeders' Cup."

Discreet Cat's victory capped a fabulous weekend for Godolphin. On Thanksgiving, Afrashad won the Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct, and on Friday Ashkal Way won the Grade 1 Citation at Hollywood Park.

Afrashad and Ashkal Way are two of approximately 11 Godolphin horses who will spend the entire winter at Payson Park and return to New York in the spring. Afrashad will be kept in graded races at six furlongs, and Ashkal Way will be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Mile with a few starts before then.

Other Godolphin horses who will do quarantine with Discreet Cat before heading to Dubai are undefeated 2-year-old Day Pass and recent Godolphin acquisitions Zada Bell and Quebec Citizen.