Brass Hat draws a crowd

Calvin Borel, a two-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey, hugs Anne Merchant, daughter of Fred Bradley (Brass Hat’s owner). Buff Bradley, Brass Hat’s owner-trainer, is at right.

People gather to see Brass Hat and Magic during the The Capital City Museum’s “An Evening with Brass Hat” Monday night. Brass Hat wasn’t shy, even if he needed Magic to keep him from getting spooked. He posed for pictures and let bystanders pet his face.

    Fred Bradley, honored Monday at Brass Hat Day, says he started in the horse trade when he bought and sold his first mule.

    “I had my first mule when I was 5 years old,” Bradley said. “I bought that mule for $2, and sold it for $5. I said, ‘Man, this is easy.’” 

    He’s been in the business ever since.

    A sizable crowd – including star jockey Calvin Borel – showed up amid gray clouds and sprinkling rain to pay tribute to Bradley, a World War II veteran, jet pilot, former Franklin County judge and state senator, and Brass Hat, a record-breaking thoroughbred trained here.

    The 9-year-old thoroughbred was kept in a 20-foot long wooden corral near the old train station and attracted flocks of curious attendees.

    Brass Hat wasn’t shy, even if he needed a donkey named Magic to keep him from getting spooked. He posed for pictures and let bystanders pet his face.

    Jim Parrish and Jim McCarty, Frankfort’s Parks and Recreation Department co-directors, say about 450 tickets were sold before the fundraiser, and about 100 more showed up.

    “We had to rent another tent to fit everybody in,” Parrish said.

    With the unpredictable weather, Parks and Recreation assembled three tents in the Kentucky History Center’s  parking lot at the corner of Ann and Broadway streets.

    Tickets to the event cost $30. A $10 raffle for six seats in the Derby Box for the Kentucky Derby Saturday was won by Patty Peavler, and souvenir Brass Hat lapel pins were available for $2. 

    Money raised at the two-and-a-half hour event will go toward renovations for the Capital City Museum. 

    “It’ll mainly go into the building,” said curator Nicky Hughes. “There will be some cosmetic upgrades and some energy-efficiency projects, such as window UV filters and awnings. That’s pretty much where it’s going.”

    Parrish said it would take “three or four days” to add up the money raised.

    Hank Hancock, a museum board member, came up with the idea to have Bradley and Brass Hat here, and said this is the first major fundraiser for the museum.

    The Brass Hat Steering Committee – consisting of several local residents – made the event possible, Hancock and others said.

    Bradley was also recognized as a top donor for the Capital City Museum. He donated $10,000 to the museum in memory of his mother after she passed away in 2006.

    “I think it’s extremely important to have a local object, something like this here,” Bradley said, pointing to the museum on Ann Street. “Everything’s local. You have to have a place, a local base.

    “I think it means everything for a local community to have a history center. History is everything, and people are realizing that again.”

    In honor of Bradley’s contribution, an elevator at the museum is named “Fred’s Fast Freight” after his trucking company. 

    The ride from the first floor to the second isn’t as quick as the name implies. It takes more than 30 seconds to get from one floor to the other, many at the fundraiser said.

    Bradley couldn’t go far without his prized horse. While he’s reluctant to say so, Brass Hat is, by his admission, the best horse he’s ever owned.

    The horse has won seven major races, and his overall winnings are about $2 million. He set course records at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., and Churchill Downs.

    Several presenters were on hand to show their appreciation to Bradley’s contributions to the state and the horse industry.

    Two-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey Borel said he’s very close to Bradley’s son, William “Buff” Bradley.

    “A lot of times he’d come up to me and ask me to ride a horse, and instead of talking to my agent, he’d talk to me,” Borel said in his Cajun drawl.

    Borel rode Brass Hat at the Grade II Elkhorn at Keeneland Friday and finished second after trailing most of the race. Borel will ride Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby Saturday.

    State Sens. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, and David Boswell, D-Owensboro, proclaimed April 26 as Brass Hat Day.

    Commissioner Kathy Carter acted as Mayor Pro Tem in Mayor Gippy Graham’s absence and designated April 26 as Fred Bradley Day.

    Coincidentally, Monday was Bradley’s 79th birthday. Master of Ceremonies Dan Liebman, editor of BloodHorse Magazine, led attendees in a chorus of “Happy Birthday.”

    Others in attendance included Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate, Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland, Franklin District Judge Kathy Mangeot, Commissioner Bill May Jr. and Magistrate Phillip Kring. Mayor Graham had to leave the event early.