Brass Hat arrives for Donn

Brass Hat returned to the scene of his most important victory when arriving at Gulftream Park on Wednesday to begin final preparations for the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 2.

Brass Hat splashed through the slop to register an impressive 4 3/4-length victory in the 2006 Donn Handicap. He has not started since finishing second, beaten less than a length by A. P. Arrow, in the Grade 2 Clark Handicap on Nov. 23.

Brass Hat is scheduled to work Saturday, following the arrival of his trainer, William "Buff" Bradley, who is due in town the previous day.

"He's done very well since the Clark, he's trained forwardly for this race, and hopefully the results will be the same as the last time we were here," Bradley said by phone from Kentucky on Thursday. "We're following the same schedule that worked so well here two years ago. Get him down early and let him get acclimated to the weather and the surroundings. I'm not sure who will work him yet, but his regular rider, Willie Martinez, will be back aboard for the race."

Nominations for the 1 1/8-mile Donn were released Thursday, with Brass Hat one of 18 older horses made eligible for the race. Other leading candidates include Daaher, A. P. Arrow, Einstein, and Fairbanks.

"I know it's going to be a tough race," Bradley said. "But I feel like my horse is doing well, he runs good fresh, and I'm very confident he'll put in a big effort."

Trainer Allen Jerkens said he's also contemplating running a couple of his older horses in the Donn - Wood Be Willing and Merchant Marine. Both will be decided outsiders if they run.

"It's a Grade 1 with a $500,000 purse, and if you even get a check it's a big home run," Jerkens said.

The Donn will share top billing on the Feb. 2 card with the Grade 2 Swale. The 6 1/2-furlong fixture for 3-year-olds attracted 44 nominations, including recent Eclipse Award winner War Pass, who is not expected to run.