Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Brass Hat highlighted big Saturday for locals

By Jennie Rees
The Courier-Journal

Saturday was a huge day for Louisville horses and horsemen, capped by Brass Hat winning the $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap.

When Brass Hat, a 6-year-old gelding, outbattled favored Fairbanks by three-quarters of a length, it marked his first stakes victory since the Grade I Donn Handicap -- almost 20 months and a broken leg ago. It was the first running of the MassCap since 2004.

Brass Hat, owned by Fred Bradley of Frankfort and trained by his son, Buff, got back on track after two 12-length defeats at Saratoga to Lawyer Ron. Before that Brass Hat set a Churchill Downs record for 1 1/16 miles in beating Student Council (the future Pacific Classic winner) in an allowance race. That was Brass Hat's first start after a 13-month layoff.

Brass Hat, with Willie Martinez aboard, was a popular victor for the 19,000-plus fans who crammed into Suffolk Downs to see the race whose past winners include Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, Riva Ridge, Cigar and Skip Away.

"I felt all along that maybe Saratoga wasn't his racetrack, and he wasn't running up to par," Buff Bradley said. " ... As soon as they left the gate Saturday, we felt pretty good. They had a slow first half, but Willie was right there on Fairbanks' hip. … He rode him perfectly. It was nice to see him come home and get some confidence back."

Brass Hat, who would require $275,000 in fees to run in the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup Classic, likely will race that day in Keeneland's $150,000 Fayette.

Also Saturday, Louisville doctor Harvey Diamond witnessed his biggest score as an owner as Cherokee Triangle unleashed a 10 3/4-length romp in Louisiana Downs' $200,000 Sunday Silence for 2-year-olds. The grass victory came shortly before Diamond's neighbor, lawyer Tom Conway, earned his biggest win, with General Jumbo in Kentucky Downs' $200,000, Grade III Kentucky Cup Turf.

"It was just so odd that we'd both do it the same day," Diamond said.

The inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, on Oct. 26 at Monmouth Park, was created just in time for Cherokee Triangle, a son of Cherokee Run whom trainer Mike Maker selected for $35,000 at a 2-year-old sale. The owners changed his original name: Moneyinthelongrun.

"That just seemed like a mouthful, and we didn't like the name," said Diamond, whose partners include Louisville's Jim Shircliff. "We live kind of in the Cherokee Park area and have commercial real estate right around the triangle. … We thought that would be a perfect name for an area we all … love very much."

Cherokee Triangle's four races have been on turf, including second in River Downs' $200,000 Cradle Stakes. Jockey Robby Albarado, aboard Cherokee Triangle for the first time in the Sunday Silence, will ride him in the Breeders' Cup.

"We're just thrilled beyond words," Diamond said. "If we could hit the board, it would be unbelievable."