06/22/2006 11:00PM

Discreet Cat's summer plans on hold


ELMONT, N.Y. - When Discreet Cat came down with a cough and a fever, it not only knocked him out of consideration for Belmont's Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes for 3-year-olds on July 4, it also scrambled a neatly constructed gameplan that could have taken him to a pair of $1 million dollar races in August: the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park and the Travers at Saratoga.

"The timing could not have been worse," said Rick Mettee, assistant trainer for the Godolphin Stable division at Belmont. "The Dwyer seemed like such a perfect prep for wherever we went after the Dwyer. It would be a solid Grade 2 where he would get pushed. Now we have to go back to the drawing board."

The Dwyer would have marked Discreet Cat's first start since he won the $2 million UAE Derby in Dubai in March to extend his unbeaten record to three. Discreet Cat won his maiden at Saratoga in his only start at 2 and was privately purchased by Godolphin after that race. His next two starts came in Dubai.

He arrived at Belmont about two weeks before the Kentucky Derby and had been "training great," Mettee said. Then the illness swept through the barn and hit 10 horses, including Discreet Cat. Discreet Cat will start walking under tack with the goal of getting back to the track early next week. His schedule depends on how quickly he bounces back.

"We'll have to play it by ear from here," Mettee said. "We don't have any definitive goals, because we don't know when he'll be back on a work schedule."

Henny Hughes to return July 1

Henny Hughes, another prominent 3-year-old who wintered in Dubai, will make his season debut July 1 at Monmouth Park in the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup Stakes at six furlongs.

Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Henny Hughes has not started since finishing second to Stevie Wonderboy in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Oct. 29. He won his first three races impressively last year and then was purchased privately by Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed al Maktoum. He closed the season with three straight seconds.

Friday morning at Belmont, Henny Hughes worked five furlongs in 59.76 seconds.

"He's training very well here," said McLaughlin. "He just didn't do very well over there [Dubai]. We're happy to have him back. He basically had the winter off."

Henny Hughes returned to McLaughlin's care in early April.

Henny Hughes will stick to sprints for his first three starts. The current schedule has him gradually stretching out following the Jersey Shore. He will head to Saratoga for the Grade 2 Amsterdam at 6 1/2 furlongs on July 31 and the Grade 1 King's Bishop at seven furlongs on Aug. 26.

"He's a Grade 1-type horse and we'd really like to win a Grade 1 with him," McLaughlin said. "The timing is perfect if he's doing well."

Jazil still pointing to Jim Dandy

In other 3-year-old news from the McLaughlin barn, Belmont Stakes winner Jazil remains on target for Saratoga's Grade 2 Jim Dandy on July 29.

"He's doing great," McLaughlin said. "We gave him six days off and he's back galloping."

Jazil could have his first post-Belmont breeze as soon as July 1.

"He doesn't require a lot of training," McLaughlin said. "He's plenty fit right now."

Pimlico Special winner Invasor, also trained by McLaughlin, worked five furlongs in 1:01.98 Friday at Belmont and remained on target for the Grade 1 Suburban Handicap here on July 1.

Stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes also listed Andromeda's Hero, Bandini, Noble Causeway, Rathor, Tap Day, Wild Desert, and Wilko as likely runners.

Ward trio targeting Travers

Trainer John Ward calls the day after the Belmont Stakes "the start of the second season" for 3-year-olds.

Ward said he hopes to play a major role the rest of the way with his trio of Minister's Bid, Strong Contender, and Dr. Pleasure.

Minister's Bid is unbeaten in two starts following a first-level allowance victory Thursday at Belmont. Rank in the starting gate, he looked professional in the lane running past seasoned stakes runners Racketeer and Flashy Bull.

"I know some state derbies will have lesser-class horses than we faced in there," Ward said. "He got great experience out of it."

Ward has his sights set on the Travers for all three.

"That's what we've always had circled," Ward said. "How Minister's Bid gets to the Travers depends on how he comes out of the race."

Ward said his goal is to keep the three apart as long as possible.

Strong Contender will head for the Dwyer after finishing third in his last two races: the Blue Grass at Keeneland and the Peter Pan at Belmont.

Of the trio, Ward said he believes Dr. Pleasure, whose one start this year came in an allowance race at Keeneland, will eventually emerge as the best of the trio.

"At the end of the game, he is the best horse," Ward said.