Just minutes after the Todd Pletcher-trained Eskendereya (Giant's Causeway) romped in Saturday's Fountain of Youth S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park, DISCREETLY MINE (Mineshaft) posted a quick Derby prep double for the barn in the $300,000 Risen Star S. (G2) at Fair Grounds. The E. Paul Robsham Stables homebred went straight to the front beneath new rider Javier Castellano, and he never looked back in his two-turn debut.
Discreetly Mine was coming off a mightily-troubled fourth in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid S. at Gulfstream Park in his first start for Pletcher. On the strength of the high-class form he had displayed as a juvenile, when second in both the Champagne S. (G1) and Futurity S. (G2), as well as his sparkling worktab, the well-bred bay was sent off as the 5-2 second choice at Fair Grounds.
Smoothly securing the early lead, Discreetly Mine proceeded to carve out steady splits of :24 3/5, :48 3/5 and 1:13 2/5. Tempted to Tapit (Tapit) and Northern Giant (Giant's Causeway) were in close pursuit, while 2-1 favorite Drosselmeyer (Distorted Humor) eventually improved into fourth. Meanwhile, Ron the Greek (Full Mandate), the winner of the recent Lecomte S. (G3) over the track, was anchored in his usual spot near the tail of the 12-horse field.
Discreetly Mine remained in control on the far turn, brushing aside a challenge from Tempted to Tapit, and spurted two lengths clear in midstretch. The top three, who had been racing in that order for virtually the entire race, maintained their respective positions at the wire. None of the deep closers managed to get involved after the leisurely early pace.
Discreetly Mine enjoyed a 1 1/2-length advantage while completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:44 4/5 on the fast track.
"I'm so blessed," Castellano said. "I expected him to be in the lead. He broke well out of the gate and he looked happy galloping along.
"I'm very satisfied with the way the race developed; this course tends to favor those that come from behind. We got a position, relaxed, made a move on the backstretch and just continued to the wire.
"He's a speed horse, and the fractions he did today were very lovely. He just galloped along in the lead and I'm very happy," Castellano summed up.
"This horse gives 110 percent every time he runs," assistant trainer Ginny DePasquale said. "We're very pleased with the outcome of this race."
Tempted to Tapit held second by a neck from Northern Giant, who in turn salvaged third by a head. Drosselmeyer, who had made a steady move along the inside, threatened to grab third, but was ultimately outfinished by Northern Giant.
"It was just a slow pace," lamented Kent Desormeaux, who came in to ride Drosselmeyer. "He was trying hard at the end, and we just couldn't catch up. It was very encouraging the way he galloped out. He has a good turn of foot, and I'm very pleased."
The winner paid $7, $4.20 and $3.80. Tempted to Tapit, the 8-1 fourth choice, gave back $8 and $6 and ended the $50.20 exacta. Northern Giant outran his 53-1 odds, fueling a $14.60 show payout and an $848.80 trifecta. Drosselmeyer concluded the 4-2-7-6 superfecta that was worth $5,134.
Stay Put rallied from far back for fifth, and Ron the Greek closed for sixth. Next came Worldly (A.P. Indy), Letsgetitonmon (Maria's Mon), Mountain Justice (Afleet Alex), Hotep (A.P. Indy), Random Move (Empire Maker) and Bravo Whiskey (Smart Strike).
Discreetly Mine now sports a mark of 7-2-3-0, and he doubled his earnings to $359,350. The Kentucky-bred just missed in his debut for Stanley Hough at Belmont Park last July, then finished fourth to subsequent Hopeful S. (G1) winner Dublin (Afleet Alex) in a Saratoga maiden. Discreetly Mine broke through emphatically in his third start, defeating Super Saver (Maria's Mon) by 6 1/4 lengths at the Spa.
He endured an eventful stakes bow in the Futurity, where he hit the gate and was steadied, but recovered to finish a clear second to the talented D' Funnybone (D'wildcat). Next time out in the Champagne, Discreetly Mine dueled early, took the lead in the stretch, but yielded to Homeboykris (Roman Ruler). Switched to Pletcher for his three-year-old campaign, he bobbled at the start of the January 9 Spectacular Bid, was slammed on the turn, and splashed home an unhappy fourth in the slop.
Produced by Alabama S. (G1) heroine Pretty Discreet (Private Account), Discreetly Mine is a half-brother to Discreet Cat (Forestry), hero of the Cigar Mile H. (G1); multiple stakes winner and Grade 1-placed Pretty Wild (Wild Again); Grade 3-placed Discreet Treasure (El Prado [Ire]); and the unraced Discreetly Awesome (Awesome Again), the dam of last year's Matron S. (G2) queen, Awesome Maria (Maria's Mon). This is the family of 1987 Kentucky Oaks (G1) queen, Buryyourbelief (Believe It).
When asked if he intended to return to Fair Grounds to team up with Discreetly Mine in the March 27 Louisiana Derby (G2), Castellano was enthusiastic.
"Hopefully. I said to Todd Pletcher, whatever he wants to do with this horse, I want to be on it. I'm the pilot, and wherever they want to send me, I'll be available.
"I'm very fortunate to have been on some good horses -- Ghostzapper, Bellamy Road, Bernardini -- and I've been getting on the horse in the morning, so I know him well enough."