Saturday, December 3, 2011

Juvenile Spotlight: Discreet Dancer

One of my favorite things to do is find young horses that have the potential to be superstars. Two-year-olds I have discovered this year before they went on to bigger and better things include Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) winner, My Miss Aurelia, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint winner, Secret Circle, two-time grade one winner, Weemissfrankie, and grade three winner, Pure Gossip. It is very entertaining and rewarding to discover two-year-olds before they go on to record prestigious victories. Juvenile Spotlights highlight some of the two-year-olds I have discovered.

Everyone’s talking about him after his dominant, track record-breaking win in the third race at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. Yet I knew about him before he ever loaded into the starting gate for the race. The previous day, I had researched the pedigrees of the two-year-old colts in the race and was most impressed by that of Discreet Dancer.
Obviously, his sire, Discreet Cat, was very remarkable on the racetrack. As a three-year-old, the son of Forestry won the one-mile Jerome Breeders’ Cup Handicap (GII) by ten and one-quarter lengths before winning the Cigar Mile Handicap (GI) by three and one-quarter lengths. Out of a blue hen, Discreet Cat is a half-brother to grade one-winning Discreetly Mine, graded stakes-placed Discreet Treasure, stakes-winning and multiple graded stakes-placed Pretty Wild, and the dam of grade one-winning Awesome Maria.

Discreet Dancer’s notable pedigree does not stop there. His dam, West Side Dancer, is a half-sister to the multiple stakes-placed Lieutenant Danz. Even more impressive, West Side Dancer has already produced Travelin Man, who won the Swale Stakes (GII) earlier this year after finishing second in the Hutcheson Stakes (GII).
Though many may not believe this is enough to suggest that Discreet Dancer would like a stretch out in distance, his grandsires on both sides of his pedigree support his case. Forestry, the sire of his sire, Discreet Cat, was mostly successful at distances under a mile, but he did win the Dwyer Stakes (GII) at a mile and one-sixteenth and finished a close third in the Haskell Invitational Handicap (GI), though the chart says he “weakened late.” However, Forestry is known for siring Shackleford, who won this year’s Preakness Stakes (GI) at a mile and three-sixteenths.
Gone West, the sire of his dam, also won the Dwyer. The son of Mr. Prospector won three graded stakes races at one mile or longer. He also sired many talented distance horses, such as Pacific Classic (GI, 10 furlongs)-winning Came Home, Belmont Stakes (GI, 12 furlongs)-winning Commendable, Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI, 12 furlongs)-winning Johar, and Pattison Canadian International Stakes (GI, 12 furlongs)- and Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (GI, 12 furlongs)-winning Marsh Side. In addition, he is the grandsire of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, Smarty Jones.
As if his pedigree was not enough to excite me, his build left me even more impressed. My eyes took in his copper-colored coat, his impressive muscularity, and his imposing balance. Despite the fact that it was his first race, the Todd Pletcher trainee walked with extreme class, strutting before the grandstand. He was a shoe-in to win.
I had a gut feeling he would win impressively. Yet he fascinated me even more than I thought he would. In the five and one-half furlong maiden special weight for Florida-bred juveniles, Discreet Dancer broke from the third gate and was roused to the outside of the leader, Someday Came, by Javier Castellano. As the flashy chestnut colt sat just off the front-runner, the pair ran the first quarter in 22:12 seconds. When the field reached the beginning of the far turn, the E. Paul Robsham Stables LLC-owned colt stuck his nose in front. By the quarter pole, Discreet Dancer led by over a length.

Under strong urging that was clearly just to remind the son of Discreet Cat to keep running, the Todd Pletcher trainee effortlessly opened up on the field. He was gliding over the track, his hind legs driving up underneath him to propel him forward. His front legs reached in front of him, his lead leg forming a straight line as it stretched out before him. He is a beautiful mover, which is no surprise considering how great his conformation is.
As he crossed under the wire nine and three-quarters lengths ahead, a striking time flashed up on the tote board: 1:02.34. It was enough to break the five and one-half furlong mark for Gulfstream’s main track. Discreet Dancer had come home in an imposing final time of 5:88 seconds for the final sixteenth of a mile.
Everything about this colt screams impressive: his pedigree, his conformation, his action, his speed, and his class. The three-year-old races for 2012 already look very interesting, but now that Discreet Dancer has been added to the mix, they have become even more intriguing.

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