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from State-Journal.com

Brass Hat ready to run with Curlin

Brass Hat faces a tough challenge in his next race, but his trainer says he's ready for it.

The 7-year-old gelding, owned and bred by Fred Bradley and trained by Buff Bradley, will run in the $1 million, Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Also entered in the 10-horse field is Curlin, reigning Horse of the Year.

"He's doing very well," Buff Bradley said about Brass Hat. "He's ready to run. He likes this track. He has the track record for a mile and 1/16 on this track.

"I know this is Curlin's home track, too," he added, "but Brass is running well. Whether he's good enough to pass Curlin I don't know, but I know he'll be running with him."

Post positions were drawn Wednesday. Brass Hat will break from the No. 10 post while Curlin will start on the rail. Curlin is currently the favorite at 3-5 while Einstein and Grasshopper are both at 5-1. Brass Hat is the fourth choice at 8-1.

Brass Hat's last race was the Louisville Handicap at Churchill May 24, a turf race covering 1 miles.

"He was a fast-closing fourth," Bradley said. "He was too far back early, and there was a slow pace to boot. He came back in that race. His last two races he didn't get the best of trips."

Prior to the Louisville Handicap, Brass Hat ran in the Elkhorn, a 1-mile turf race April 25 at Keeneland where he finished third.

"He had a horrible wide trip in that race," Bradley said.

On Saturday Calvin Borel will ride Brass Hat for the second straight time.

"Calvin's been working him out every time," Bradley said. "He's ridden him one time in a race, and he took full responsibility for being too far back with a slow pace last time. He knows him better this time.

"And there will be some pace in this race," Bradley added. "It'll be a much different race than the last race, besides being on dirt."

Brass Hat has run in the Stephen Foster one other time, finishing fifth in 2006. Borel won the Foster that year aboard 91-1 long shot Seek Gold.

Bradley isn't concerned about starting from the outside in this year's Foster.

"I'm thinking there could be a scratch or two and we could move closer," he said, "and Calvin is one of the best at moving inside and saving ground. I'd rather be at 10 than 1, I'll put it that way."

Brass Hat is a multiple-graded stakes winner who's earned more than $1 million, but he faces a tough field Saturday. Einstein is a Grade I stakes winner, and Sam P. ran in last year's Kentucky Derby, finishing ninth. He'll be ridden by Kent Desormeaux Saturday.

Then there's Curlin, trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Robby Albarado.

"Curlin has looked outstanding all spring," Bradley said. "I've watched him work out. I still wouldn't trade places with them because I love my horse, and people love him, too.

"We're going to give him a run for the money," he added, "but we'll have to earn that money."

Brass Hat and Perfect Drift are squaring off again with authentic shoes worn by each horse, up for auction on www.Ebay.com, head to head. All proceeds will benefit Second Stride horses, a not-for-profit organization to benefit retired thoroughbred race horses.Go to www.secondstride.org and click on each horse's name to bid.



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