The Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack will
serve as the New York debut for Discreet Dancer, who has won four of
starts, all at Gulfstream Park.
The seven-furlong Carter was carded as the tenth race on
Saturday’s Wood Memorial card. Post time for the Carter is scheduled for
Discreet Dancer, a 4-year-old, was never asked for his best run
in his most recent effort, a 5 ¼-length romp in the Grade 2 Gulfstream
Park Handicap on March 9. It was
a step forward off his 2013 bow, a neck victory in an optional claimer
on February 6.
His lone career loss came in his 2012 finale, when he was third
in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, his only start beyond one mile.
Discreet Dancer, an E. Paul Robsham Stables homebred, will be
cutting back from one mile in the Gulfstream Park Handicap to seven
furlongs in the Carter. He’ll breaking
from the outside in the Carter, which drew a field of seven.
“We hope that he’s as good elsewhere as he is at Gulfstream,”
said trainer Todd Pletcher. “He’s always trained very well at Palm
Meadows, and we’re optimistic he’ll
handle just about any surface. We really like the post position.
Anytime you’re going seven furlongs you’d love to not be on the inside,
and the relatively short field gives us all the options.”
On Sunday, Discreet Dancer turned in his final workout prior to
the Carter by breezing five furlongs in 1:01.17 in company with Wood
Memorial morning-line favorite Verrazano
at Palm Meadows.
“His last work was consistent with the way he’s been training
this winter,” said Pletcher. “He and Verrazano have been workmates on
occasion; they seem to do well together.
It was a similar work to what we saw prior to the Gulfstream Park
Javier Castellano will ride Discreet Dancer, who was installed as the 8-5 morning-line favorite and assigned 118 pounds.
Like Discreet Dancer, Sahara Sky will be making his first start in
New York, having made 13 straight starts in
Southern California. He was undistinguished through his 4-year-old season, with his best win being a neck victory last May at
Given time off following a fourth in an allowance in June,
Sahara Sky has made a gigantic leap forward during his 5-year-old
season. Returning in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes
in January at Santa Anita, he rallied from off the pace to win by a
length at 21-1. He subsequently validated that score when he employed
similar closing tactics to take the Grade 2 San Carlos by three-quarters
of a length on February 23, also at Santa Anita.
“Last summer, he got real body sore down at Del Mar, and we just
gave him a little time out, and he came back running for us and then
won two big races in a row for
us at Santa Anita,” said Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who
owns Sahara Sky in partnership with Sweetwater Stable. “So we’ve learned
with him to space his races out and when he needs time, to give him the
time. He’s a lovely horse and I’m looking
forward to running him in New York, although I think that’s going to be a pretty tough race, in my opinion.”
Joel Rosario, who rode Sahara Sky for four starts in 2011, will
be reunited with the 2-1 morning-line second choice. The 120-pound
highweight drew post 4.
Swagger Jack and
Loudon, second and third, respectively, in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, will face Discreet Dancer again in the Carter.
Swagger Jack by a half-length in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Sprint
Championship at seven furlongs in February and gave way late after
contesting the pace from post position 2 in the Gulfstream
Park Handicap. The Jacks or Better Farm homebred drew post 2 once again
in the Carter.
“I wish he had drawn outside, but he’s a good horse and he’ll
fight hard,” said Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito, who won last year’s
Carter with Jackson Bend. “Seven-eighths
is his distance. We’ll see what happens.”
Loudon, 5-1, will
carry 118 pounds, including Jose Lezcano, from post 2. Irad Ortiz, Jr.
will ride Swagger Jack, 10-1 and assigned 116 pounds, from post 6.
The Carter field also includes Saturday’s Charm and Consortium,
second and fourth in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap on March 2 on the
inner track, and Brigand, disqualified
from second to fifth in the Grade 3 General George Handicap on February
18 at Laurel Park.