(May 22, 2008) – Multiple graded stakes-winning geldings Brass Hat and Silverfoot headline a field of 11 older horses entered in Saturday’s 71st edition of the $150,000-added Louisville Handicap (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.
Seven-year-old millionaire Brass Hat will attempt to land his first win on grass, while 8-year-old Silverfoot pursues an unprecedented fourth triumph in the 1 ½-mile Louisville Handicap, a race he won from 2004-06.
Fred Bradley’s homebred Brass Hat, who’ll break from post 5 as starting high weight with 117 pounds, was deemed the mild 7-2 morning line favorite by Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia. Silverfoot, who landed post 9, is the 9-2 second betting choice and will carry 115 pounds.
The open turf marathon for 3-year-olds and up also attracted graded stakes winners Lattice, Transduction Gold and Birdbirdistheword, as well as Fort Harrod runner-up Save Big Money and Keeneland allowance winners Pickapocket and Biggerbadderbetter. Firerock Base, Lord Carmen and Spider Power-IRE complete the field.
Brass Hat’s résumé includes victories in the 2004 Ohio Derby (GII) and Indiana Derby (GII) at age three; the Donn Handicap (GI) and New Orleans Handicap (GII) in 2006; and $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap last September. He also finished second to Electrocutionist in the 2006 Dubai World Cup (GI) but was later disqualified because of a medication infraction.
Overall, Brass Hat boasts a record of 8-5-1 and earnings of $1,753,819 in 24 starts. He has yet to win in four races on turf, but finished third in his most recent outing over grass, the $200,000 Elkhorn Handicap at Keeneland on April 25.
“He can run on grass or dirt, it really doesn’t matter,” said trainer William “Buff” Bradley, the owner/breeder’s son. “We just feel like he likes the grass and we want to prove he can run on the grass.”
Calvin Borel, who piloted another three-time Louisville Handicap winner, Chorwon, to victories in 1997 and ’99, will take over the reins on Brass Hat, replacing Willie Martinez who rode the horse in his last 18 starts. Martinez is now based at Pennsylvania’s Presque Isle Downs.Chrysalis Stables’ Silverfoot skipped last year’s Louisville Handicap after three consecutive wins in the race. He’s winless in four starts this year and finished fifth in the Elkhorn, a quarter-length behind Brass Hat. Four of his nine career wins have come over the Churchill Downs turf course for trainer Dallas Stewart.
Here’s the complete Louisville Handicap field from the rail out (with jockeys, assigned weight and morning line odds): Lattice (Robby Albarado, 114, 5-1); Biggerbadderbetter (Corey Lanerie, 113, 10-1); Spider Power-IRE (James Lopez, 113, 10-1); Transduction Gold (Miguel Mena, 114, 15-1); Brass Hat (Calvin Borel, 117, 7-2); Save Big Money (Shaun Bridgmohan, 113, 6-1); Pickapocket (Elvis Trujillo, 114, 8-1); Birdbirdistheword (Jesus Castanon, 113, 15-1); Silverfoot (Jamie Theriot, 115, 9-2); Lord Carmen (Larry Melancon, 114, 10-1); and Firerock Base (Julien Leparoux, 114, 10-1).
Melancon has a chance to win his fifth Louisville Handicap with his scheduled ride on Lord Carmen. The 52-year-old native of Breaux Bridge, La., shares the stakes record of four victories with Steve Brooks. He won his first Louisville Handicap 30 years ago on It’s Freezing in the 1978 renewal.
Trainer Ken McPeek, who is scheduled to saddle the duo of Biggerbadderbetter and Birdbirdistheword, has won the Louisville Handicap twice before: Pisces, who finished in a dead heat with Classic Par in 2002, and Drilling For Oil last year. Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott (Pickapocket) won a division of the race in 1991 with Chenin Blanc. Trainer John Glenney (Transduction Gold) won the 2003 renewal with Kim Loves Bucky, who holds the stakes record of 2:14.09.
The Louisville Handicap will run as Race 10 at approximately 5:51 p.m. (all times Eastern) on an 11-race program that begins at 1:15 p.m. Churchill Downs admission gates will open Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
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