- The announced crowd on Saturday at Aqueduct was only 4,834 on an absolutely gorgeous November day. The crowd was packed into the clubhouse as usual, with extra areas of the grandstand open to accommodate crowds that never came. The TVs blared the results of way too many big racing events around the country on the same day - a zillion stakes races at Laurel, extreme day at Calder, two-year olds galore at Churchill. So it felt like a big day anyway, even as the routine undercard plodded along. The shroud of bankruptcy and uncertainty hangs heavily over the storied track, and not even the prospect of seeing the ephemeral Discreet Cat could bring fans out on this day. But the ones who didn't come should be sorry. Years from now when you hear around 10,000 people tell you that they were there that day, don't believe them more than half of them.
We can't talk about Discreet Cat until we first mention Nobiz Like Shobiz. It was his win that signaled that this would not be just another day at the races. Barclay Tagg's prized two-year old sat patiently and professionally between horses behind the pacesetters in the Grade 2 Remsen. As he turned for home lockstep with 11-1 Timber Reserve, you figured it was time to see if this colt is worth all the hype that was generated from his two prior starts. I have to admit that I was just a bit skeptical. No longer.
Cornelio Velasquez asked Nobiz Like Shobiz for a response at that point, and wow, did he respond. "He is getting it! He is getting it in a big way!" exclaimed Tom Durkin as the son of Albert the Great strided out with a purpose, emphatically drawing away, and doing it as if he was truly enjoying himself as his rider merely showed him the whip. "I just had a lot of horse. I think he is the best two-year-old now. He was a little green the first couple of times, but he is getting more better, more better. He likes company and competition." [Bloodhorse]
Actually, he still seemed a bit green in the stretch as he seemed to be trying to look around a bit, perhaps seeking that company and compeition that he likes but no longer had. He got his final eighth in 12.77; last three-eigths in a racehorse 36.86. Tagg said: "If he's not a Triple Crown candidate, they've never made one." [DRF]
While I still think Tagg made the right move in skipping the Juvenile, it's now certainly fair to wonder what might have been. Nonetheless, the colt is definitely better off for having not made the trip to Churchill, and I imagine he'll be many peoples' winter-book favorite for the 2007 Kentucky Derby.
It was a show-stopping performance, but was not to be the top story on this day. Godolphin wanted Discreet Cat to finally get a test in the Cigar Mile, but you know what? Despite chasing a revived Silver Train through a six furlong mark of 1:07 3/5 that almost made Durkin fall out of the booth, I don't know if he got it! I have never before seen a thoroughbred race horse run six furlongs in 1:07.75 with his jockey sitting motionless throughout. He made what would otherwise be a blazing and punishing speed duel look routine; Garrett Gomez was casually looking behind him as they were turning for home. It wasn't until the eighth pole that he even shook the reins, and showed Discreet Cat something called a whip.
"I had plenty of horse and my only concern was when I looked back I couldn't tell how fast Badge of Silver was coming.The final time of 1:32.46 was a stakes record and a virtual tie for track record with Easy Goer's 1:32.40 (edit - times corrected); the final quarter was 24.61, so maybe he did get a little tired. I suppose even a freak can get weary after running that fast. The second quarter was 22.11, and the third was run in 22.92. Trainer Saeed bin Suroor said: "He was a bit keen today and in future he needs to relax more. His time in Dubai over the winter should help him to do this."
"He was hiding behind us. When I took a peak back at the eighth pole I could see him so I showed Discreet Cat the stick a couple of times and he went about his business.
"He's never been hit with it (the whip). I've been excited ever since I put a leg on him. To run as fast as they ran and the way he was doing it, he's just a nice horse." [Sporting Life UK]
So yes, Discreet Cat is a freak, a monster, whatever you want to call him. He's also the best three-year old to have raced in this country this year. Forget Barbaro vs. Bernardini. Discreet Cat should win the Eclipse for top three-year old.