Sunday, January 15, 2012

Derby Hopeful: Discreet Dancer

In 2011, I posted “Juvenile Spotlights” about two-year-olds I had followed since early on in their careers. Now that it’s 2012, everyone’s focus is on the Kentucky Derby. Some horses from past Juvenile Spotlights will be featured, as well as additional horses on the Derby trail.
Of all the three-year-old colts I’ve seen, Discreet Dancer is one of the most impressive to me. A colt that I picked to win his maiden race off of pedigree the day before it was run, Discreet Dancer has impressed many.
In his first start, which was a maiden special weight for Florida-bred juveniles at Gulfstream Park, Discreet Dancer was sent off at odds of 0.70-1. After a decent start, jockey Javier Castellano urged the Todd Pletcher trainee to battle for the lead. The chestnut colt took the lead with about three-eighths left in the race and didn’t look back. His lead only grew from there and with hardly any asking from Castellano, Discreet Dancer accelerated as the horses entered the homestretch. He was ridden briskly in the stretch, but Castellano’s urging was clearly just a method of teaching the colt to continue running. The E. Paul Robsham homebred crossed the wire 9 ¾ lengths ahead of the others with a final time of 1:02.34, which was a new track record for five and one-half furlongs. He completed the final sixteenth in an imposing 5.88 seconds.
Discreet Dancer made his second start and three-year-old debut on January 7 in an allowance optional claiming race for three-year-olds at Gulfstream. Not only was he facing winners and open company for the first time, but he was stretching out to the one mile distance. However, he did not struggle with the new conditions. He broke well from the outside and went to the lead under Javier Castellano. He settled well, running the first quarter mile in 24.19. He began to draw away from the field as the newly-turned three-year-olds swept into the far turn, moving effortlessly under Castellano. With slight urging from the jockey, the chestnut colt drew off effortlessly.
“There’s no telling how good he is!” track announcer Larry Collmus exclaimed just before Discreet Dancer flashed under the wire with 5 ½ lengths separating him and the others in a final time of 1:36.32.
Collmus was completely right. Discreet Dancer has been incredibly impressive, but he has not yet faced stakes company. Yet, going off his past performances and pedigree, he should fare well. After all, if his connections want to take him to the Kentucky Derby (GI), he must have enough graded stakes earnings.
Many believe his pedigree will give him distance limitations. However, there is plenty in his pedigree that suggests he can stretch out in distance. Though his sire, Discreet Cat, was predominantly successful at a mile, Discreet Cat’s sire, Forestry, sired the 2011 Preakness Stakes (GI, 9.5F) winner in Shackleford. Through his sire, Discreet Dancer traces back to several sires capable of producing talented distance horses, such as Storm Cat, Private Account, and Pleasant Colony.
Discreet Dancer’s dam, West Side Dancer, has also produced the graded stakes-winning Travelin Man. Though the longest distance West Side Dancer ever won at was seven furlongs, West Side Dancer is a half-sister to Lieutenant Danz, a multiple stakes-placed horse whose maximum winning distance was nine furlongs.
The sire of West Side Dancer is the influential Gone West, who was successful at distances over one mile. 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.
Through his dam, Discreet Dancer traces back to many influential sires such as Danzig, Alydar, and Buckpasser. He is inbred to Secretariat 5 X 4, to Raise a Native 4 X 5, to Northern Dancer 5 X 4, and to Buckpasser 5 X 5.
The colt also has the build of an athlete. Despite being inexperienced, Discreet Dancer carries himself with extreme class. He is a very well-balanced individual, having a sloping shoulder that causes him to be very evenly balanced and therefore have a shorter topline in correlation to a longer underline. He also possesses impressive muscularity, as he is wide through the chest and from stifle to stifle.
If Discreet Dancer can prove that he can stretch out and face the best competition, he will be extremely dangerous. He definitely has an impressive pedigree, beautiful conformation, and sheer talent. He has several different tests to pass, but if he is able to pass those tests, he will be something special.

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