07/06/2005 11:00PM

Discreet Hero now in Act III


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The Dr. Fager Stakes on Saturday at Arlington falls 21 days before the $300,000 Washington Park Handicap, and the connections of the six contestants just found out they are prepping for a possible start against Perfect Drift.

Perfect Drift passed Saturday's Hollywood Gold Cup with an eye injury, and trainer Murray Johnson said the horse could be redirected to the Washington Park, which Perfect Drift won two years ago.

The Dr. Fager sextet might best be served by laying it all on the line this time, and not worrying about the next one.

Last year's Dr. Fager was run at 7 1/2 furlongs in September. This time, it's 1 1/8 miles in July, and Discreet Hero, who finished fourth in the 2004 race, stands a much better chance.

is 7 now, and he is on his third life as a racehorse. During the first one, Discreet Hero won the 2001 Round Table at this racetrack and distance, and the next year he was third here in the Hanshin Handicap. Discreet Hero's form eventually soured, and trainer Bernie Flint claimed him last summer for $40,000.

Not two months later, Discreet Hero was a stakes horse again. But these invigorated old-timers can crumble in a hurry, and that is what Discreet Hero seemed to be doing early this year, throwing in duds in three of four starts. But here he came again in late May, with an easy win in a Mountaineer Park allowance race, followed by a 6 3/4-length score there in a $75,000 stakes race.

So Discreet Hero is back, but he will need racing luck to win from the rail Saturday. Leading rider Shaun Bridgmohan figures to let free-running Discreet Hero leave the gate running, but he will find company from Nkosi Reigns, , and perhaps even Stormy Impact on the front end.

Of that trio, figures to stick around longest. He finished third, beaten less than a length in the May 28 Hanshin at a one-turn mile, and failed to show his best on grass in a June 15 allowance race.

A year ago, Ole Faunty would have looked like the horse to capitalize on a hot pace, but Ole Faunty is off form, and the Illinois-bred Home of Stars could be the one passing tiring horses in the stretch.

Home of Stars had a touch of trouble when he finished third last out in the Black Tie Affair Handicap, but that race was on turf, and trainer Bobby Springer believes his horse is better on dirt, a position supported by Home of Stars's race record.