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Brass Hat loses appeal

$1.2 million purse will go to Wilko

By Maryjean Wall
Fred Bradley, owner of Brass Hat, was disappointed at his horse's disqualification.
Fred Bradley, owner of Brass Hat, was disappointed at his horse's disqualification.

The $6 million Dubai World Cup of March 25 ended yesterday in a Frankfort lawyer's office with Brass Hat losing his $1.2 million runner-up purse.

"The biggest disqualification in racing history," muttered owner Fred Bradley as he emerged from an international conference call, looking glum -- and frustrated.

He had just learned from Emirates Racing Authority that no further appeals would be possible. Unlike in the United States, where horse owners can file a lawsuit if they disagree with a racing body's appeals process, Bradley learned he is at a dead end in Dubai.

"I guess you write to the sheikh," said Bradley's attorney, William E. Johnson of Frankfort. Johnson spoke tongue-in-cheek, also expressing frustration. He said they were not surprised by the ruling but disappointed.

J. Paul Reddam's Wilko, who has not won a race since the 2004 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, moved from third in the World Cup to second, nearly doubling his $1.7 million lifetime earnings with the new purse.

And Brass Hat, the 5-year-old gelding that Bradley, 75, foaled and raised on his Frankfort farm, saw the big purse and accompanying prestige fly right out of his bankroll -- when the stable had never even seen the check.

Brass Hat has been a home-grown project all the way, beginning his career in a $15,000 claiming race at Turfway.

His mother cost only $5,000 and the mating to Prized that produced Brass Hat cost no more than another $3,500. Brass Hat went from humble beginnings to huge success and won three consecutive stakes prior to leaving for Dubai in March.

Bradley's trainer-son, William "Buff" Bradley, learned nine days after the Dubai World Cup that Brass Hat had been disqualified over an anti-inflammatory steroid found in his post-race drug test.

The Bradleys never denied that the gelding had received the drug, through an injection to a problem joint in a hind leg.

But they appealed the disqualification, arguing that administration of the drug was well within the withdrawal parameters given them in written guidelines by retired Keeneland President Bill Greely, now an agent for the Dubai World Cup.

Dale Romans, who won the 2005 Dubai World Cup with Roses in May, said the Bradleys' experience would make him think twice about taking another horse if he were at all undecided about its chances.

"It's too far a trip and too uncomfortable a trip if you're not going to get a fair shake there," Romans said. "If there's zero tolerance (on drugs)," he added, then Dubai "shouldn't give a guideline for withdrawal."

A three-member appeals panel of the Emirates Racing Authority heard testimony on Monday given over a speaker phone by the Brass Hat connections. The panel was led by Keith Stark, a Volvo dealer in Dubai.

"Their big pitch was that Greely never was in the employ of Emirates Racing Authority. He works for Dubai Racing Club," said Johnson, the attorney.

Greely, in Lexington, said the best he can determine is that the two are separate entities.

"I really feel terrible about it," said Greely, in Lexington. "It's such a shame."

Greely said in a phone interview that he received the withdrawal paramaters in an e-mail message in 2004 from the Dubai Racing Club, which hosts the World Cup.

"I have been giving them out for three World Cups," he said. Greely's job is to interest American stables in sending horses to the World Cup. He takes nominations and, if he thinks a stable is serious about sending a horse after receiving an invitation to race, he gives that stable the medication withdrawal parameters.

Greely said the information sheet was created at the request of horsemen in the United States.

He said he will continue to hand out the withdrawal parameters to horsemen. But he also said, "It would make you a little gunshy about going, wouldn't it."

Romans, upon learning that the Bradleys are out of options in Dubai, remarked, "It's good to be in America."Buff Bradley, said that the use of an anti-inflammatory steroid fell within the rules.