10/01/2006 11:00PM

Discreet Cat: Oh, the possibilities


ELMONT, N.Y. - While the Grade 1 Cigar Mile on Nov. 25 remains the most likely next objective for the undefeated 3-year-old Discreet Cat, his connections said they will wait until after this upcoming weekend to make a final decision regarding a possible start in the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.

And the $5 million Classic isn't the only race Discreet Cat's connections are contemplating. Rick Mettee, the assistant trainer for Godolphin Racing, said Monday that the $2 million Sprint could also be an option for Discreet Cat, who is 3 for 3 around one turn.

"He might just be good enough to do it," Mettee said. "He's got a lot of natural speed to stay close. It's always a tough raceo- there are usually horses in form and with more seasoning than us - but he might be the kind of horse to do it."

Most racing observers would love to see Discreet Cat face Bernardini in the $5 million Classic. But since Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al Maktoum owns both horses, that meeting is unlikely to happen. Bernardini, the Preakness and Travers winner, is scheduled to run in Saturday's $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup. Mettee said that no decision regarding Discreet Cat's next race would be made until after Bernardini runs. Sheikh Rashid, the son of Sheikh Mohammed, owns Henny Hughes, who is running in Saturday's Vosburgh, a key prep for the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"The Sprint, Classic, or Cigar Mile, I would think you would see him in one of the three," Mettee said. "The one thing I can tell you is he will stay in training next year. It'd be nice to win a Grade 1 with him as a 3-year-old, and the Cigar Mile is attractive for that reason."

On Sunday, Discreet Cat dominated four rivals in winning the Jerome by 10 1/4 lengths, covering one mile in 1:36.46 while winning as jockey Garrett Gomez pleased. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 115.

Mettee said Discreet Cat came out of the Jerome in good order, though "a little more tired off this race than the three-other-than at Saratoga."

Pletcher nears records

With nearly three full months of racing remaining this year, trainer Todd Pletcher is nearing two major records.

With $20,762,941 in purse earnings through Monday, Pletcher is closing in on the earnings mark he set last year of $20,867,842. Pletcher's 2006 figure includes money won by Magna Graduate ($650,000) and Host ($200,000) in a pair of races on Dubai World Cup night at Nad al Sheba in March.

Pletcher has also won 87 stakes, moving him within five of trainer D. Wayne Lukas's mark of 92 set in 1987.

"It's been a phenomenal year," said Pletcher, who is on target to earn his third straight Eclipse Award. "When you retire horses like Ashado, you don't see being fortunate to replace them with a filly like Fleet Indian who's had a great year, and Pool Land. I've been fortunate to have kind of a steady flow of good horses coming to us, which obviously has allowed us to keep the ball rolling.'

Jockey Club: Zito might run Sun King

The defection of Invasor from Saturday's $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup could prompt trainer Nick Zito to run Sun King in the Gradeo1 race.

Zito's original plan was to train Sun King up to the Breeders' Cup Classic. But Zito said the horse is doing so well right now that he could run Saturday. Zito discussed the situation with owner Tracy Farmer on Monday and Farmer said the decision is up to Zito.

"If I feel it's beneficial and it won't hurt him for the big one, I'll consider it," Zito said Monday afternoon from Saratoga. "The horse is doing great."

Sun King has had a tough-luck year, suffering narrow losses in the Metropolitan Handicap and the Whitney. Most recently, he finished third in the Woodward on Sept. 2 at Saratoga.

If Sun King does run, that would bring the Gold Cup field to five. Bernardini, the Preakness winner, will be the heavy favorite. Also expected to run are Dylan Thomas, a Group 1 winner on turf in Europe; the sprinter Spanish Chestnut, who will be used as a rabbit for Dylan Thomas in the race; and Andromeda's Hero, another Zito trainee. Dylan Thomas and Spanish Chestnut would be coupled in the wagering as they share common ownership.

Trainer John Kimmel said he is more likely to point Brooklyn runner-up Awesome Twist to the Meadowlands Cup on Oct. 13 than he is to run in the Gold Cup. Pletcher said the same thing about Master Command while noting that West Virginia will likely remain on schedule for the $250,000 Empire Classic on Oct. 21.

Attila's Storm to run in Vosburgh

The connections of Attila's Storm called an audible over the weekend and decided not to ship their talented sprinter to Kentucky for this Saturday's $250,000 Phoenix Stakes, but rather tackle the heavy heads of the sprint division by running here in the Grade 1, $400,000 Vosburgh.

In what will be the colt's first start in nearly nine months, Attila's Storm will face defending Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Silver Train, leading 3-year-old sprinter Henny Hughes, the graded-stakes-winning War Front, and Who's the Cowboy, a winner of four consecutive ungraded stakes.

Attila's Storm, who finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint last year, has not run since suffering a hind leg fracture while finishing third, beaten a neck, in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 21.

"There are as many upsides as there are downsides to it," trainer Richard Schosberg said of running in the Vosburgh. "There are more horses down there, [but] a little less talent. But you have to ship and race over the [Polytrack]; does he like it? If the Breeders' Cup was run over a Polytrack we'd be running in [the Phoenix]."

Schosberg said he decided to have a van lined up for 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon to take Attila's Storm to Keeneland, but changed his mind after watching his horse work five furlongs in 1:01.40 here Saturday morning.

"Physically, he's every bit as a good as he was last year," Schosberg said. "The injury has not given him one bit of a problem. His works have been fabulous; his attitude couldn't be better. He wants to eat everything in sight, limbs fingers. He's going into it with a world of confidence."

Schosberg said Cornelio Velasquez would ride Attila's Storm in the Vosburgh.

Silver Train worked five furlongs in 1:00 at Aqueduct on Monday.

Beldame: Balletto is in

After looking at the amount of speed expected for Saturday's $600,000 Beldame, trainer Tom Albertrani decided to run keep Balletto here for that Grade 1 race rather than ship her to Kentucky for this weekend's Spinster at Keeneland.

Balletto won the Grade 1 Frizette here as a 2-year-old, but is winless in five starts this year after missing her entire 3-year-old season. In two starts here in the spring, Balletto finished second to Take D'Tour in the Shuvee and third to her in the Ogden Phipps. In both of those races, Take D'Tour got loose on the lead.

That may not be the case Saturday as Take D'Tour has to deal with Teammate and possibly Fleet Indian on the front end.

"This race may set up better for us," Albertrani said.

Meanwhile, Take D'Tour will have a new rider as Eibar Coa replaces Velasquez, who had ridden Take D'Tour in her last four starts. Velasquez has chosen to ride Teammate, who finished second in the Alabama and Gazelle.

Take D'Tour breezed a solid five furlongs in 1:00.87 over Belmont's main track on Sunday.

Round Pond, who won the Grade 1 Acorn here as a 3-year-old, is also expected to run.

Flower Bowl: Honey Ryder returns

Honey Ryder will look to bounce back from a fourth-place finish in the Beverly D. when she takes on multiple graded stakes winners Angara and Film Maker in the $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational.

Argentina, beaten a head when third in the Grade 1 Diana, is the only other confirmed starter for the 1 1/4-mile race.

Honey Ryder won the Orchid, Sheepshead Bay, and Robert G. Dick Memorial before finishing fourth behind Gorella in the Beverly D.

Pletcher, who trains Honey Ryder, may also run Jade Queen, third in the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup. Barancella, winner of an allowance race here, is also possible.

Joe Hirsch: English Channel tries again

English Channel was beaten a head by Shakespeare in last year's Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. He will try to make up the difference, taking on a field that includes European runners in the 1 1/2-mile turf race.

Expected to arrive in the U.S. on Tuesday were Freedonia, a Group 2-winning mare at Deauville; Frost Giant, a Group 3 winner in Ireland; and Royal Highness, a Group 2 winner in France.

Icy Atlantic and Interpretation are other North American-based runners expected to start.