09/24/2006 11:00PM

Discreet Cat vs. Bernardini unlikely to happen


ELMONT, N.Y. - The ease and brilliance Discreet Cat displayed winning his comeback race last month at Saratoga had racing fans looking forward to the undefeated 3-year-old facing top-quality competition in the fall.

That anticipation turned to disappointment when Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing, which owns Discreet Cat, laid out a fall campaign that didn't include the Breeders' Cup Classic, but does include Sunday's Grade 2, $150,000 Jerome Handicap at Belmont Park.

Despite being assigned 124 pounds for the Jerome, Discreet Cat will likely roll to a victory, making him 5 for 5 in his career and raising the volume for Discreet Cat to face Preakness and Travers winner Bernardini and the best older horses in training in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.

Since Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable owns Bernardini, a Discreet Cat-Bernardini meeting is unlikely to happen. Provided Bernardini makes it to the Classic, Discreet Cat will likely target the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 25.

Rick Mettee, who runs Godolphin's New York operation, said this was not the original plan, but it is the right plan. Discreet Cat, who won the UAE Derby by seven lengths in March - beating subsequent three-time U.S. Grade 1 winner Invasor - was being targeted for some of this country's biggest 3-year-old races in the summer before getting sick in June.

"His getting sick screwed up everything," Mettee said. "He would have gone Dwyer, he would have run in a couple of those big summertime races. We would have had a completely different agenda. You might have even seen him in against older horses in one of those races. We have to do the right thing now by him. It might not be a popular thing, but the right move for him right now is the Jerome Oct. 1. That is the right move regardless of where we go the next race."

On Aug. 25, five months after the UAE Derby, Discreet Cat won a third-level allowance race by 11 lengths at Saratoga. He ran seven furlongs in 1:21.53 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 112.

"I don't think I ever saw a horse win at seven-eighths quite that easy," Mettee said. "It was a solid three-other-than. Nobody really stepped up and ran a big race, but on paper it didn't look like that bad a race. It certainly was a lot tougher than his comeback race in Dubai. That would have been like an a-other-than at Philly Park. I thought he might get a little [tired] in the race so, yes, I was a little taken aback by it."

On Monday, Discreet Cat completed preparations for Saturday's Jerome by working five furlongs in 59.67 seconds over Belmont Park's main track. It was the fastest of 25 moves at the distance. Under regular rider Garrett Gomez, Discreet Cat went his first three furlongs in 36 seconds, and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.40.

"They have to work a little harder to get through this track, so probably just from training down here he's probably a little fitter horse," Mettee said. "They always seem to blow harder over this track."

Discreet Cat will likely have three or four rivals in the Jerome. Noonmark, runner-up in the Swale, is confirmed. Trainer Pat Reynolds said he may run Valid Notebook, who won a second-level allowance race going a mile here on Sept. 9. Brilliant Son is also possible, according to trainer Chuck Simon. Nick Zito or Richard Dutrow Jr. could each provide a runner as well.

Ashkal Way switches to Kelso

Mettee and Godolphin called an audible regarding Ashkal Way, scratching from last Saturday's John D. Schapiro at Laurel to run in this Saturday's Grade 2, $250,000 Kelso Breeders' Cup here.

Mettee said last week he preferred the Schapiro because he thought the 1 1/8 miles was better for Ashkal Way than the one-mile distance of the Kelso. On Monday, Mettee said the Kelso is a more prestigious race and with the right pace, the one-turn mile is doable.

"I don't think this race is appreciably tougher than that race," Mettee said. "We don't have to ship; he's run well on this turf course. If we get pace, the one turn should be up his alley."

Mettee also said the Kelso will give him a better line on how good Ashkal Way is. A strong performance could earn Ashkal Way a start in the Breeders' Cup Mile in light of the fact Godolphin's duo of Librettist and Proclamation came out of Saturday's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot lame, according to racing manager Simon Crisford.

Ashkal Way will likely be the starting co-highweight in the Kelso, along with Meteor Storm. Others expected to run include Art Master, Drum Major, and Old Forester. Baron Von Tap, Defer, and Friendly Island are possible.

Deville mulling Meadow Breeze's next

Meadow Breeze came out of her upset win in Saturday's Grade 1 Matron in good order, according to trainer Carl Deville, and may run back in the Grade 1, $400,000 Frizette here on Oct. 14.

Deville said he is between either running in the Frizette or training Meadow Breeze right up to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 4. Deville, who has a small string of horses at Belmont, flew home to Louisiana Sunday night and said he would make a decision after returning to New York later this week and examining the filly.

"She looked good [Sunday] morning and my crew said she looked good today," Deville said. "We've run quite a few times this year."

Trainer Todd Pletcher said his duo of Octave and Featherbed, who dead-heated for second when finishing a head behind Meadow Breeze, will simply train up to the Juvenile Fillies.

Irish Derby winner Dylan Thomas in Gold Cup

Dylan Thomas, winner of the Irish Derby and Irish Champion Stakes on turf, will make his dirt and North American debut in the $750,00 Jockey Club Gold Cup here on Oct. 7, trainer Aidan O'Brien told the Racing Post over the weekend. O'Brien also confirmed that John Velazquez would ride Dylan Thomas in that race, which is expected to include Bernardini and Invasor. The Gold Cup should give O'Brien a better line of Dylan Thomas's chances in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic.

Second of June, runner-up in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga, is also expected for the Gold Cup.

* Velazquez took off his mounts Sunday for the second time in three days, complaining of a sore heel. Velazquez initially suffered the injury in the gate more than a week ago. He is not listed to ride Wednesday, but is named on five horses on Thursday.

* Eibar Coa has withdrawn an appeal of a suspension stemming from a careless riding incident in May, and on Monday began serving a seven-day riding suspension that lasts through Sunday.