03/23/2006 12:00AM

Godolphin 3-year-old in tough

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - The $2 million at Nad Al Sheba on Saturday is not expected to have major implications in the build-up to the Kentucky Derby. Most of the starters are too old to run in the Derby.

The UAE Derby is open to 3-year-olds from the Northern and Southern hemispheres, and horses considered 3-year-olds in the Southern Hemisphere - they were foaled in the second half of 2002 - are considered 4-year-olds in the United States. There are seven Southern Hemisphere 3-year-olds in the field and six Northern Hemisphere 3-year-olds, four of whom are nominated to the Kentucky Derby - Discreet Cat, Testimony, Unification, and Well Armed.

Discreet Cat, unbeaten in two starts, including a maiden race at Saratoga last August, is the likely favorite, but he may not be keen to run as far as the UAE Derby distance of about 1 1/8 miles on dirt.

Owned by the Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing, Discreet Cat is expected to race in the United States later this year, but is unlikely to come for the Kentucky Derby.

"If he skates in with his head in his chest, we'll consider" the Kentucky Derby, said Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager.

Discreet Cat will have enough trouble beating four South American-breds who are undefeated or on lengthy winning streaks.

Ian Jory, who trained in California until January 2005 and is now based in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, starts two South American-bred 4-year-olds: Gold for Sale and Simpatico Bribon.

Gold for Sale is unbeaten in six starts, including two major one-mile races: the Argentine 2000 Guineas in 2005 and the UAE 2000 Guineas here on Feb. 10.

Simpatico Bribon has won seven consecutive starts in Chile, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai. At Nad Al Sheba, he won a stakes at about 1 1/8 miles by six lengths on March 2.

"Simpatico is something else. He exudes class with whatever he does," Jory said.

Jory is so bullish on Simpatico Bribon that he considered starting him in Saturday's $6 million Dubai World Cup.

None of the entrants made his last start in the United States, but two undefeated South American-bred 4-year-olds, Dominguin and Invasor, have been training in Florida in recent months.

Dominguin, trained by Dante Zanelli, won five races in Peru last year, including four stakes.

Invasor, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, won five starts in Uruguay last year, including Uruguay's triple crown.