- Godolphin seems to be going out of its way to let everyone know just how tough of a spot the Cigar Mile is for Discreet Cat. “This will be by far his toughest race,” said Rick Mettee, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor. “Much tougher than the UAE Derby...Invasor is a different horse now than he was in the UAE Derby.” [NYRA]
Only four will line up against him, but three of them are older horses, and therein lies the inspiration for owner Ken Ramsey in running Badge of Silver. That decision, on the surface, seemed like a strange one after his fine third place finish off a ten month layoff on the grass in the Breeders Cup Mile.
"Three-year-olds are at a disadvantage running against older horses, even this late in the year.....Bernardini didn't make it. If this time-tested, old hard-knocking horse looks Discreet Cat in the eye, I think he might possibly blink." [Daily Racing Form]Silver Train took the Breeders Cup Sprint last year, as Mettee was quick to point out, but his last race, a dull 5th in the Vosburgh at Belmont, the horse's favorite track, certainly puts a damper on his prospects for the Cigar. “I was shocked at the way he ran,” said jockey Edgar Prado. “He was training super going into the race. He broke well, but when I asked him, he never picked it up.” [NYRA]
Sharp Humor, the other three-year old in the field, makes his second start since his ill-fated run at the Derby. He figures to be part of what could be a lively scene up front with Badge of Silver and Discreet Cat.
Ken Ramsey makes a good point about three-year olds and older horses; and Bernardini's loss in the Classic was an apt demonstration that being able to beat lesser horses with something left in the tank doesn't necessarily mean that the tank will be full when hooked by more talented competition. However, while many people now believe that Discreet Cat may not be much (if at all) below Bernardini, Badge of Silver definitely ain't no Invasor. And unless Silver Train has some good explanation for his poor effort at Belmont, Discreet Cat figures to run off to his winter in Dubai in style.
- Nobiz Like Shobiz faces seven other juveniles in the Remsen, also on Saturday.
The 4th at the Big A is a maiden two-year old race with shades of Saratoga. Todd Pletcher has a pair of first-timers with long, steady work tabs; and Nick Zito, Shug McGaughey, and Kiaran McLaughlin have debut runners of their own. You may recall the uncharacteristic streak of first-time winners that Zito had upstate. Since his final one there, he has 14 in a row without a win. Skypa (Stravinsky) was a $45,000 yearling purchase. He's out of a mare by River Special, and his second dam, by Damascus, is a half sister to Avatar, the 1975 Belmont winner, and a name out of the past to be sure. I would say that was my first Belmont as a converted thoroughbred fan.
Pletcher may have struggled a bit at Churchill, but he's 7 for 23 for 30% at the Big A. Madman, one half of his entry, is a half-brother, by Mr. Greeley, to the champion sprinter Artax. Feastorfamine is a $200,000 yearling starting for McLaughlin. He's by Mr. Greeley's son El Corredor, 6 for 68 with first-time juveniles according to the Form; out of an Ascot Knight mare, and his second dam is a half to Bluebird, an Irish sprint champ.
And Rescue Party debuts for McGaughey, so watch the board with this one, who's not a pure Phipps-bred and is listed at 6-1 off some quick recent works. He's by the struggling sire Monarchos, who as we noted, has had his stud fee cut in half to $7,500, which does not make him the lowest standing Derby winner. At the least, Real Quiet is below him at $6500. Monarchos is 4 for 38 with first time two-year olds. Rescue Party is out of a Seeking the Gold mare; his second dam is graded winner Deputation; his third the Grade 3 winner Wedding Party.