Discreet Ops Stands Out in Impressive Debut Triumph Thursday

2YO Army Mule Filly Rolls in Six-Furlong Maiden Special Weight
Trainer Rudy Sanchez-Salomon Registers Thursday Hat Trick

LAUREL, MD – Charles J. ‘Chip’ Reed’s Discreet Ops, from the second crop of undefeated Grade 1 winner Army Mule, got the eighth weekend of Laurel Park’s fall meet off to a thrilling start with an eye-catching 7 ¾-length debut victory Thursday.

Ridden by Jean Alvelo for trainer Ben Feliciano Jr. and sent off as the third-longest shot in a field of nine at 20-1, Discreet Ops ($43.60) completed the distance in 1:12.08 over a fast main track. Hateful edged C C Royal by a neck for second.

Duela Dent, breaking from outermost Post 9, was hustled to the lead and opened a 5 ½-length advantage after going the opening quarter-mile in 22.37 seconds while Discreet Ops raced in third, some seven lengths off the pace. Discreet Ops steadily made up ground until drawing alongside Duela Dent leaving the far turn following a half in 46.28, straightened for home in front and drew off again inside the eighth pole.

“When she started to close the gap on that horse I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s going to win this race,’” Feliciano said. “And then when she went by her, instead of hanging with her she just drew off past her. It was quite an impressive race, I thought.”

Discreet Ops was one of six first-time starters in the race, including 2-1 favorite Independence Way, who finished seventh. She had eight timed works since early July at Laurel for her unveiling.

“We were working her and she’s always worked real well, but she had a little problem where she was hitting herself real bad. She gashed herself pretty good, so we had to stop on her for a little bit,” Feliciano said. “We were shortening her works up. We didn’t want her going into the turn at full speed because she was hitting herself. We finally got her over that. We shod her different and did a few other things different and got her to stop hitting, and you saw the result.

“I didn’t know how fit she was going to be today. I was a little worried about that, but I guess she took care of that. I honestly thought she would come up a little bit short but, man, did she prove me wrong,” he added. “She always had talent. When she drew off like that I was standing there wishing I bet on her.”

Army Mule went 3-for-3 in his career, winning the 2018 Carter Handicap (G1) in what would be his final start. Among his early progeny are multiple stakes winners One in Vermillion, Danse Macabre and Recruiter, who all won stakes as a 2-year-old.

One in Vermillion won a pair of juvenile stakes at Turf Paradise last year and most recently captured the H. Allen Jerkens (G1) at Saratoga. Danse Macabre won Kentucky Downs’ Untapable at 2 and this year’s Herecomesthebride (G3) at Gulfstream Park. Recruiter’s stakes wins include the 2022 James F. Lewis III at Laurel.

“That’s why we bought her. We like the Army Mules,” Feliciano said. “We always were on the Army Mules right away. When his first crop came out, I was buying a couple of them, and I’ve liked every one I’ve had. I actually had a 2-year-old by Army Mule that was tearing up the track and if he hadn’t gotten hurt the last work before I was going to run him, he would have done the same thing this filly did today.”

Notes: Jockeys Jaime Rodriguez and Angel Cruz each doubled Thursday. Rodriguez visited the winner’s circle with Nottoway ($5.80) in Race 3 and Rubys Flash ($4.20) in Race 5, while Cruz was first on Riccio ($12) in Race 4 and Rebel Posse ($6.80) in Race 6 … Rebel Posse, Tocayo ($11.40) in Race 8 and Mister Agent ($7.80) in Race 9 are all trained by Rudy Sanchez-Salomon … There will be carryovers of $6,317.91 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 4-9) and $5,842.42 in the $1 Jackpot Super High Five (Race 6) … First race post time Friday is 12:25 p.m.

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