08/23/2006 12:00AM

Discreet Cat in Jerome prep


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Nearly a year to the day since he won his career debut, Discreet Cat makes his return to North American racing in a third-level allowance race at seven furlongs Friday at Saratoga.

Discreet Cat, an undefeated 3-year-old son of Forestry, has not raced since winning the United Arab Emirates Derby at Nad al Sheba on March 25. His owner, Godolphin Racing, decided to skip the Kentucky Derby to point him for a summer campaign that was to have included Saturday's $1 million Travers Stakes. But Discreet Cat got sick while training during the summer at Belmont Park and missed a month of training. The short-term goal then became the $150,000 Jerome Handicap at Belmont Park on Oct. 1. Friday's race serves as a prep for that.

Rick Mettee, the assistant trainer for Godolphin, said he decided to run Discreet Cat in this race because there was no certainty that the same condition would fill at Belmont three weeks before the Jerome.

"He's a good two works away from being spot-on fit," Mettee said. "I'm hoping his natural ability gets him around there first. He's definitely not 100 percent fit, but his race will certainly assist him for the Jerome."

Discreet Cat won a six-furlong maiden race by 3 1/2 lengths last year on Travers Day and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 106. He was owned by Mrs. Einar Robsham and trained by Stanley Hough then. Shortly after that race, he was sold to Godolphin.

In March, Discreet Cat won two races in Dubai in a 17-day period, including the UAE Derby by six lengths. The fourth-place finisher from that race, Invasor, has won three Grade 1 stakes in the handicap division since then.

Discreet Cat arrived at Belmont in late April and began breezing in late May. He had three breezes before getting sick in mid-June. Discreet Cat returned to the work tab on July 17 and has had five steady breezes, including a five-furlong move in 1:01.04 on Aug. 17.

Discreet Cat will break from the outside post in the nine-horse field under Garrett Gomez.

Another horse making his North American debut is Flying Pegasus, a multiple Group 2 stakes winner in Australia who is now in the barn of Todd Pletcher. Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. sends out the coupled entry of Wild Nature and Dark Cheetah.