02/27/2007 12:00AM

Discreet Cat in unusual prep

David Alcosser/NYRA

Discreet Cat, undefeated and unscathed in six career starts, highlights Nad Al Sheba's Dubai World Cup Preview Night card on Thursday but will be running in what is usually the program's least important stakes, the Group 3 Burj Nahaar, a $200,000 dirt mile traditionally used as a prep for the Godolphin Mile.

Godolphin has taken an unusual step of preparing Discreet Cat for the Dubai World Cup in the Burj Nahaar, which has drawn a full field of 16, with Discreet Cat breaking from post 9 under Frankie Dettori. This will be his first start since Nov.o25, when he won the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, but he is no stranger to Nad Al Sheba, having won a one-mile allowance here last year as well as the Group 2 UAE Derby, in which Invasor finished fourth, seven lengths back.

"I have not sat on him since the UAE Derby last year, but obviously I watched him go on to really prove himself in America," Dettori said. "I see him most days and he has been training well. This is a big day for him, and it's the next step to the Dubai World Cup meeting. It's not going to be easy with a seven-pound penalty which he has for winning a Grade 1 race, but we've got to start somewhere."

Discreet Cat, a Forestry 4-year-old, will spot his 15 rivals from two to eight pounds in the one-turn mile. Chief among his rivals are the last two winners of Round 1 of the Maktoum Challenge, Imperialista and Blatant; last year's UAE 2000 Guineas winner Gold for Sale; Blue on Blues, a three-time winner on the Nad Al Sheba dirt this winter; and Nelore Pora, a Brazilian-bred son of Romarin who won a Group 2 mile on dirt in his native land and a handicap at the same distance in his Nad Al Sheba debut Feb. 1.

Two other horses with strong American connections, Thor's Echo and Day Pass, will also line up for their World Cup Night preps.

Thor's Echo, the Eclipse Award sprint champion who is unraced since taking the De Francis Dash at Laurel Park on Nov. 25, will make his first start in the colors of Sheikh Mohammed's son Rashid in the listed $200,000 Mahab Al Shamaal, a course and distance prep for the six-furlong Dubai Golden Shaheen. He finished second in that race last year to Proud Tower Too.

Sheikh Rashid purchased Thor's Echo after his De Francis triumph and turned him over to Sateesh Seemar, who will give a leg up to British rider Richard Mullen.

"He's acclimatized well and has had an uninterrupted training schedule," Seemar said. "We'll find out a lot more about him on Thursday."

On the face of it, Thor's Echo appears to have an easy task. Any competition may come from local sprinters Thajja and Heart Alone, and perhaps Agnes Jedi, a four-time graded winner on dirt in Japan.

Day Pass, who won the Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 3 for Darley and Kiaran McLaughlin, has been switched to Godolphin and will make his first start for Saeed bin Suroor in the Al Bastikiya, a $150,000 conditions race at the UAE Derby distance of 1 1/8 miles. Dettori has the ride on the unbeaten Day Pass, who will face pressure from recent UAE 2000 Guineas winner Asiatic Boy, whom trainer Mike de Kock calls "right up there with some of the best I've trained."

As an Argentine-bred Southern Hemisphere 3-year-old, Asiatic Boy will spot Day Pass nine pounds on the scale in the seven-runner field.

Godolphin will unleash a pair of Group 2 winners in the Group 3, $200,000 Dubai City of Gold, the prep for the 1 1/2-mile Dubai Sheema Classic. Dettori has chosen Best Alibi over Imperial Stride, but they both must contend with two-time European Group 1 winner Laverock as well as the German-trained Quijano, who won his ninth in a row last time when beating Laverock by a nose, albeit in receipt of nine pounds.

Dettori rides French Derby runner-up Best Name for Godolphin in the Groupo2, $250,000 Jebel Hatta. The 1 1/8-mile Dubai Duty Free prep has also drawn Formal Decree, Ace, and Oracle West, the first three from the Group 3 Al Rashidiya, as well as Team Valor's de Kock-trained Irridescence, who may not be quite ready following a bout of colic.

The card's official Dubai World Cup prep, the Group 2, $300,000 Maktoum Challenge-Round 3, has come up light as Round 2 winner Kandidate skips the race to go straight to the World Cup on March 31. Choctaw Nation, third in the 2005 World Cup and ninth last year for trainer Jeff Mullins, reappears after a year's absence in his first start for Seemar, who said that he "has had a lot of problems."