10/22/2007 11:00PM

Discreet Cat's connections say he's in peak form

EmailOCEANPORT, N.J. - Either you're a believer in Discreet Cat or you're not.

A flashy colt who won his first six starts before disappointing with two resounding defeats, both following layoffs, Discreet Cat figures to be favored Friday in the inaugural running of the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Monmouth Park.

Nine horses were entered Tuesday for the BC Dirt Mile, which, despite its name, actually will be run at a mile and 70 yards because of the way the Monmouth track is configured. Discreet Cat, with Garrett Gomez to ride, drew the inside post in a two-turn race in which the 4-year-old colt will try to regain the form that once made him one of the most exciting racing prospects in the world. Owned by the Godolphin powerhouse and trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Discreet Cat will attempt to bounce back from defeats in the Dubai World Cup in March and the Vosburgh last month.

"We feel he's at the top of his game going into the Monmouth race," said Rick Mettee, the Godolphin assistant who has been overseeing the colt's training at Belmont Park. "I think we may have him back to the level he was at for the Cigar Mile" last November, when Discreet Cat won easily, capping his unbeaten streak at six.

Whether or not Discreet Cat, the track's 2-1 morning-line favorite, can return to form seems the biggest question in a race that has several unresolved issues. Among them: Can Corinthian, winner of the Met Mile in May, also rebound off two lackluster efforts and prove himself a top miler? Will one of the speed horses - High Finance, Gottcha Gold, or Wanderin Boy - just keep on going, even after what figures to be a rapid pace? Or can Xchanger, one of two 3-year-olds in the field, carry the banner for a crop that many are calling the deepest in years?

Yet another variable is whether Lewis Michael, who emerged as a top middle-distance runner in the Midwest this year, can successfully return to dirt after making all six starts this year on turf or synthetic tracks.

"We're not worried about running him back on dirt," said trainer Wayne Catalano. "One of the best races of his career came at Belmont" in May 2006, when the colt ran second in the Peter Pan.

Park Avenue Ball and Forefathers, the other 3-year-old, round out the field. Forefathers was also entered in the BC Sprint by trainer Bill Mott and owner Ahmed Zayat.