Brass Hat shines in Mass Cap

Fred F. Bradley's homebred BRASS HAT (Prized) returned from injury earlier this year to set a new track record of 1:41 1/5 for 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs when taking an allowance/optional claimer by a head before posting off-the-board finishes in two graded events. On Saturday, the Bill Bradley-trained six-year-old showed he still has what it takes to compete against stakes rivals with a three-quarters of a length victory in Suffolk Downs' $500,000 Massachusetts H., which was making its own return after being taken off the schedule for the past two years.

With regular rider Willie Martinez back up in the irons, Brass Hat was wide while tracking the pacesetting Fire Striker (Adcat) through the half-mile that went in :49 1/5. Moving up while three wide on the turn, the gelding challenged Fairbanks (Giant's Causeway), who had taken over the lead, for the advantage. Passing that rival in midstretch, Brass Hat pulled off to finish 1 1/8 miles on the fast dirt in 1:49 3/5.

Sent off the 4-1 third choice, the winner was worth $10.20, $3.80 and $3 while keying the $21.60 perfecta, $56 trifecta and $153.40 superfecta (8-4-1-7). Fairbanks was easily best of the rest, clear by 4 1/2 lengths in second to pay $2.20 and $2.20 as the 3-5 favorite. Dr. Pleasure (Thunder Gulch) was next under the line, holding Evening Attire (Black Tie Affair [Ire]) by 1 3/4 lengths to return $2.80 as the near 3-1 second pick. Shuffling Maddnes (Real Quiet) followed in fifth, then came Palladio (Lycius) and Fire Striker. Who What Win (Dance Brightly) was scratched.

Brass Hat has now scored a black-type victory in four years of his racing career. Previously, the bay had scored in the 2004 runnings of the Ohio Derby (G2), Indiana Derby (G2) and Rushaway S., the 2005 Prairie Bayou S., and the 2006 editions of the Donn H. (G1) and New Orleans H. (G2). The Kentucky-bred now owns a 19-8-4-0 career mark and has accumulated $1,582,451 in lifetime earnings.

While the Mass Cap was the more anticipated event at Suffolk on Saturday, there were three other stakes carded for the day. Like Brass Hat, Godolphin colorbearer AFRASHAD (Smoke Glacken) also returned off a long break, making his 2007 bow in the Troy S. at Saratoga where he ran fifth but was moved up to fourth via disqualification. In the $100,000 James B. Moseley Sprint H., the Saeed bin Suroor trainee proved much the best under Richard Migliore, leading wire-to-wire to post a four-length victory while running six furlongs in 1:09. Afrashad, hero of last year's Fall Highweight H. at Aqueduct and third in the Sport Page Breeders' Cup H. (G3), moved his line to 9-6-0-1 while increasing his earnings to $243,724 with Saturday's win.

Also at Suffolk on Saturday, Lynne M. Scace's homebred and trained ON THE VINEYARD (Lite the Fuse) added a first stakes win to his record with a 3 1/4-length victory in the $45,000 Collegian S. under Martinez. One race later, the Lloyd W. Lockhart trained and co-owned REPRIZED STRIKE (Reprized) was a 3 1/2-length victor of the $45,000 Waquoit S. with Clifford Dooley in the irons.