Friday, March 1, 2013

Stallion Feature: Discreet Cat

Merely two years of age, nine Thoroughbreds loaded into the gate on the side of the track opposite the famed grandstand on Travers Day, 2005. Like any maiden special weight for juvenile racehorses at Saratoga Racecourse, hopes were high that a future superstar was lurking in the shadows of this six-furlong contest. Lucky for those attending the races that day at the esteemed New York track, they would watch a future superstar capture the race, defeating other eventual stars along the way.

Discreet Cat, a stunning bay colt carrying the maroon and gold silks of E. Paul Robsham, set a brisk pace to capture the race by 3 ½ lengths, completing the three-quarters of a mile in 1:09.76 minutes. Finishing behind him were the future grade one victors Political Force and Thorn Song, the eventual stakes-winning and graded stakes-placed Superfly, and the future stakes winner Last Best Place.

The winner would prove to be the richest of the horses that contested in this race. Later purchased privately by Godolphin Racing, Discreet Cat was sent to Dubai, where he made his second start the following March. Preparing for the UAE Derby (GII), Discreet Cat effortlessly won the one-mile Areej Trophy at Nad Al Sheba by 4 lengths. With the same ease with which he seized his sophomore debut, Discreet Cat soared to a 6-length UAE Derby triumph, finding himself as one of the top contenders for the Kentucky Derby (GI).

Discreet Cat
Photo by Madison Scott
But Godolphin chose to keep their talented colt out of the Run for the Roses, instead aiming for important U.S. races in the latter part of 2006. In his return to American soil, Discreet Cat trounced allowance optional claiming foes by 11 lengths at Saratoga nearly a year to the day after his maiden victory. Displaying his trademark scintillating speed, Discreet Cat crossed the wire in a sublime final time of 1:21.53 for seven furlongs.

Discreet Cat had now won four consecutive races in just as many starts. Making his U.S. graded stakes debut in his following start, the Jerome Breeders’ Cup Handicap (GII) at Belmont Park, the bay colt broke sharply, eager to take the lead. Tugging at Garrett Gomez’s hold, Discreet Cat set brisk fractions, his governance never in doubt. With no amount of difficulty, Discreet Cat abandoned his rivals as he coasted to a 10 ¼-length victory under wraps.

The greatest triumph of Discreet Cat’s racing career took place nearly two months later at Aqueduct in the Cigar Mile Handicap (GI). Carrying 124 pounds as the highweight, Discreet Cat initially allowed Sharp Humor – a graded stakes winner that had come within a half-length of Kentucky Derby (GI) winner Barbaro in that year’s Florida Derby (GI) – to open up on the field down the backstretch, but the small group behind the pacesetter gained ground on the leader, allowing Discreet Cat to surpass Sharp Humor alongside Silver Train. Godolphin’s brilliant colt pressured the pace as Garrett Gomez sat stationary, asking him only in the final stages of the race as Discreet Cat dashed to a 3 ¼-length demolition. The final time for the one-mile was an astounding 1:32.46, just .06 seconds off Hall of Famer Easy Goer’s track mark.

Discreet Cat’s 2006 campaign earned him a rating of 128 by the World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings, thus allowing him to tie with champion Bernardini as top-rated three-year-old. Pointed towards a start in the 2007
Dubai World Cup (GI), Discreet Cat was kept out of a race at Nad Al Sheba that was meant to serve as his prep for the esteemed race due to a fever, instead going straight to the World Cup. But Discreet Cat’s perfect record was tarnished by a last-place finish, though the colt was quickly discovered to have a respiratory tract infection and an obstruction to air flow of his throat.

The bay colt never won again, turning in a pair of third-place finishes in the Vosburgh Stakes (GI) and the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Retired to Darley, Discreet Cat began his stud career in 2008, with his first crop hitting the track in 2011. Among his best runners to date in his young breeding career are the graded stakes winners Mamma Kimbo and Out of Bounds, the black-type winners Discreet Marq and Incredicat, and the speedy, graded stakes-placed
Discreet Dancer.

If Discreet Cat’s ancestry is any indication, the stallion has a promising future as a sire, as both of his parents have been very successful producers themselves. His sire, Forestry, has sired such grade one winners as Diplomat Lady, Forest Danger, and
Shackleford. His dam, the grade one-winning Pretty Discreet, is a Reine de Course mare, having produced the additional grade one winner Discreetly Mine, as well as the stakes winner Pretty Gold and the dams of the grade one winner Awesome Maria and the stakes winners Chary and Concorde’s Edge.

Discreet Cat's pedigree

 Notably, Forestry’s sire – Discreet Cat’s grandsire – is Storm Cat, one of the greatest sires to ever live. The very successful stallion was also very effective as a sire of sires, producing such sires as Bluegrass Cat, Giant’s Causeway, and Hennessy. This certainly augurs well for Discreet Cat, as Storm Cat is the grandsire of such productive stallions as Johannesburg and Shamardal.

The Northern Dancer sire line from which Discreet Cat descends is certainly among the most influential ones of the breed. In the 1970s, the Canadian-bred champion was the leading sire once in North America and four times in the United Kingdom, as well as the twentieth century’s most successful sire. Northern Dancer’s stud record was astounding, as the son of Canadian Hall of Famer Nearctic was an incredible producer of successful racehorses, sires, sires of sires, and broodmares. Among his best sons were the champions Nijinsky and Sadler’s Wells, both of which became leading sires, the latter of which was the leading sire in the United Kingdom for an astonishing thirteen consecutive years and for a total of fourteen years.

As aforementioned, Discreet Cat’s dam, Pretty Discreet, was an outstanding broodmare, earning her the title of a blue hen. The mare descends from a potent dam line, her third dam being the black-type-placed Reine de Course mare Christmas Wishes, who was a daughter of another Reine de Course mare in Acorn Stakes (GI) victress Happy Mood, who yielded several stakes winners that were successful producers themselves, including the dam of a Canadian Broodmare of the Year. Happy Mood herself was also a daughter of a Reine de Course mare, La Reigh – a multiple stakes-winning mare who foaled several black-type horses.

The sire of Pretty Discreet, Private Account, is best-known for siring the great champion Personal Ensign. The son of Damascus has served as a terrific broodmare sire, producing the dams of the likes of grade/group one winners Aldebaran, Good Journey, Menhoubah, Miner’s Mark, My Flag, Panty Raid, Pompeii, and Traditionally. Sons of Private Account mares have proven themselves as sires, as evident in the stallions Miner’s Mark and Our Emblem.

The Northern Dancer/Damascus sire line cross on which Discreet Cat is bred has yielded the likes of the leading sires Johannesburg and Medaglia d’Oro. Discreet Cat has had success with mares from a wide variety of sire lines, but seems to cross with mares from the Mr. Prospector sire line best. His offspring Out of Bounds, Discreet Marq, and Discreet Dancer all are out of mares from the Mr. Prospector line. This is no surprise, as Forestry has crossed well with mares from the Mr. Prospector line, as Shackleford is out of a dam from this line and Diplomat Lady is out of a mare from the Raise a Native – the sire of Mr. Prospector – line. 

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