03/27/2007 11:00PM

Favorites at opposite ends



DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - There are only seven horses, and they have 1 1/4 miles on the Nad Al Sheba track to sort themselves out, but Wednesday's post position draw for Saturday's $6 million Dubai World Cup still offered at least a dollop of intrigue, with the two favorites, Discreet Cat and Invasor, bookending the field after posts were assigned.

The unbeaten Discreet Cat and jockey Frankie Dettori break from post 1, while Invasor and Fernando Jara are in post 7, and the draw may give Invasor a greater margin of error.

"It wasn't a big concern, but the interesting thing was the 1 hole," said Invasor's trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin. "Neither one of us wanted it, they got it."

Post 2 will house the Japanese horse Vermilion (Christophe Lemaire up), with Hong Kong veteran Bullish Luck (Brett Pebble) in post 3, the England-based Kandidate in post 4, Premium Tap (Kent Desormeaux) of the U.S. and more recently Saudi Arabia in post 5, and the Saudi Arabian-based Forty Licks (Mick Kinane) in post 6.

The team from Godolphin, Discreet Cat's owners, isn't revealing its strategy, but the inside draw could force Dettori to use more of Discreet Cat's ample speed than originally planned. Kandidate is expected to have early pace, and Vermilion also could to be involved in a front-end skirmish. Discreet Cat has been right on top of extremely fast early fractions in some of his races, but has relaxed behind leaders in others - at least briefly. Discreet Cat tends to have a target for the first quarter-mile or so, at which point he can hold back no longer, moving inexorably toward the front.

"If my horse sits somewhere in the middle, has good position, and relaxes, he's got a great chance," trainer Saeed bin Suroor said.

The draw was held Wednesday evening at the Johara Ballroom of the Madinat Jumeirah Souk, a large, lavishly appointed convention and meeting center adjacent to the Burj Al Arab, which bills itself as the world's only seven-star hotel. But like post-position draws across the world, Wednesday's was geared more to pomp than importance, with special attention being paid to the local sponsors of all seven of Saturday night's races. Prior to the six Thoroughbred races, there is a race for Arabians. At the core of the evening's activity lay about five minutes worth of substance, as representatives from each World Cup entrant chose a sparkling globe with a number, the horse's post position, affixed to it.