Brass Hat to return in star-studded allowance

Gary Rothstein/Equi-Photo

by Steve Bailey

Grade 1 winner Brass Hat will return to competition a year after injuring his right foreleg for the second time in his career.

The six-year-old Prized gelding, who set a track record for 1 1/8 miles in the 2006 Donn Handicap (G1), took a bad step following a workout at Churchill Downs last July and sustained a nondisplaced sesamoid fracture in his right front ankle.

Brass Hat has been entered in the sixth race, a 1 1/16-mile allowance race that will mark first start since a fifth-place finish in last year’s Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs. Grade 1 winner Perfect Drift, multiple graded stakes winner Spellbinder, and Grade 3 winners M B Sea and Real Dandy are also entered.

Post time for the race on Churchill’s closing-day card on Sunday is 3:55 p.m. EDT.

Owner Fred Bradley and his son, trainer Buff Bradley, had been through the rehabilitation process before. As a three-year-old, Brass Hat fractured the cannon bone in his right front leg during the 2004 Walmac Lone Star Derby (G3) and missed more than a year before making his return.
“My father never put any pressure on me to get him back to the racetrack,” Buff Bradley said. “We knew from when he was injured before that he’d let us know if and when he was ready to go back to the track.”

Brass Hat began light training in October and began started working more seriously earlier this spring. In June, he fired two bullet five-furlong workouts at Churchill Downs, which was uncharacteristic for a horse that had been a notoriously lethargic worker in the past.

“I don’t know why he’s shooting faster,” Bradley said. “He’s still very much relaxed and going nice and easy. You can tell he’s really enjoying himself out there.”

During his three years on the track, Brass Hat also won the 2004 Indiana (G2) and Ohio (G2) Derbies and the '06 New Orleans Handicap (G3). He also finished second to Electrocutionist in the 2006 Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) but later was disqualified to 11th following a medication positive.

Bradley said he does not know if Brass Hat can come back as good—or even better—than he was before, but that the horse deserves a chance to see if he still can compete with the top older horses in the sport.

“If his last few workouts are any indication, I’d say he’s ready,” Bradley said. “I’m not sure what to expect, honestly. It’s his first race in more than a year, so we’d just like him to be competitive. After that, the horse will tell us where we need to take him.”

Steve Bailey is deputy news editor of Thoroughbred Times