Brass Hat Nears Return at 10

May 25, 2011 Gary Yunt, Travers Manley & John Asher

BRASS HAT PREPARES FOR CAMPAIGN AT AGE 10 – With more than $2 million in his career bankroll and at the age of 10, one would think Brass Hat would be ready to kick back at the farm and enjoy the easy life.

            One would think wrong.

             “He seems to still like his job and he is sound and willing,” said Buff Bradley, who trains the homebred that is owned by his father Fred Bradley. “We will find a spot for him when he tells us he’s ready, but if he’s not right then I have no problem retiring him and sending him back to the farm.”

            But that day seems to be still in the future as Brass Hat is back training under the Twin Spires for an undetermined start.

           “We gave him the entire winter off and now we’re just trying to slowly get him back into shape,” Bradley said of Brass Hat, who closed 2010 with a sixth-place finish in the Clark Handicap (GI) on dirt. “It’s way too early to know when or where we will run him.”

            That the son of Prized, who made his first start in a runner-up finish in a race for $15,000 claiming horses at Turfway Park on Jan. 29, 2004, is still in action is a tribute to the patient handling of the Bradleys.

After back-to-back Grade II victories in the Ohio Derby and Indiana Derby, Brass Hat suffered a condylar fracture of the right front ankle when finishing ninth in the 2004 Lone Star Derby (Grade III).

 “The vets told me that he would return to racing after surgery, but probably wouldn’t be as good,” Buff Bradley said. “He proved them wrong by going on to win a Grade I (Donn Handicap).”

                The roller coaster continued for Brass Hat when he was disqualified from second and placed 11th in the $6 million Dubai World Cup (GI) for a medication infraction. Later in the year, he would crack a sesamoid and be out of training for the remainder of 2006.

The gutsy gelding would recover and make another improbable return to the races. With Willie Martinez aboard, Brass Hat went on to win an allowance/optional claiming race at Churchill Downs in track record time off a 13-month layoff. Brass Hat prevailed in the mile-and-a-sixteenth contest by a head over eventual G1-winner Student Council and stopped the clock in 1:41.27.

            “It was one of the best races he ever ran,” Bradley said.

             Since 2008, Brass Hat has done the bulk of his racing in turf marathons with victories in the 2009 Louisville Handicap (GIII) here and last fall’s Sycamore (GIII) at Keeneland. Both races covered 1 ½ miles.

            When Brass Hat’s racing days are over, that doesn’t mean his days at Churchill Downs will be over.

            “I may bring him back for Derby Week and let people come by and have their picture taken with him,” Bradley said. “He usually gets a lot of visitors and a lot of people came by last week.”

KEERTANA TO FACE THE BOYS IN LOUISVILLE HANDICAP — The multiple graded-stakes winning mare Keertana never has faced males in her career, but that could change a week from Saturday as trainer Tom Proctor is pointing the 10-time winner at the 74th running of the $100,000-added Louisville Handicap (GIII).

Third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (GI) over the Matt Winn Turf Course last fall, Keertana won the Bewitch (GIII) in her most recent start at Keeneland on April 28 at the Louisville Handicap distance of 1 ½ miles.

 Owned and bred by Barbara Hunter, Keertana has compiled a record of 25-10-5-6 for earnings of $914,371. Keertana has a record of 8-3-2-2 on the Matt Winn Turf Course that includes a victory in the 2009 Regret (GIII).

 The Louisville Handicap drew 27 nominations and weights for the race will be released Saturday. Other marquee names among the nominations are defending champion Free Fighter and Stella Perdomo’s multiple-graded stakes winner Musketier (GER). Trained by Roger Attfield, the 9-year-old Musketier won the Elkhorn (GII) at Keeneland for the second consecutive year in his most recent start.

                Humana Distaff (G1) winner Sassy Image, who has won four of five starts on the main track at Churchill Downs, heads a list of 21 fillies and mares nominated to the eighth running of the $100,000-added Winning Colors (GIII) to be contested on Memorial Day, May 30.

Other top names among the Winning Colors nominees include Wesley Ward’s Old Hat (GIII) winner Final Mesa, who has put together a string of bullet works at Keeneland, and Mill House’s Hour Glass, winner of last year’s Vagrancy Handicap (GII) at Belmont Park for trainer Todd Pletcher.

TRAINER DIANNE CARPENTER DEAD AT 68 – Friends and former co-workers in Kentucky racing are mourning the death of former trainer Dianne Carpenter, who died on May 4 in Biloxi, Miss.

            Carpenter was best known for saddling two starters in the Kentucky Derby (GI), the most by a female trainer in the 137-year history of America’s greatest race.  She trained and owned Biloxi Indian, who finished 12th to Swale in 1984, and Kingpost, who was 14th to Winning Colors in 1988.

            Trainer Garry Simms, who worked with Carpenter as an assistant trainer, said she died of cancer at the age of 68.  Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Home in Biloxi handled funeral arrangements.

            Simms, who worked as an assistant to Carpenter before he opened a public stable, said he had been in touch with Carpenter sporadically in recent years.  She was a teacher before she launched her training career, and Simms said she returned to teaching after she left Thoroughbred racing.

            “Dianne was really talented and was a real horseman,” recalled Simms.  “She had a great eye for a horse.”

            Carpenter operated a stable at Churchill Downs from the late 1970’s through the late 1980’s, and won three stakes race at Churchill Downs.  She saddled Sun Catcher, racing for her Sundance Stable, to win the 1980 Clark Handicap and Biloxi Indian, also racing under her Sundance colors, took the 1983 Kentucky Jockey Club.  The latter finished second to the Woody Stephens-trained Devil’s Bag as the 1983 2-year-old champion made his final career start in a memorable renewal of Churchill Downs’ Derby Trial in 1984.

            She also won the Perryville Stakes during Churchill Downs’ summer racing meet in 1983.

            Mark Warner’s homebred Kingpost was one of Carpenter’s most accomplished horses.  The Ohio-bred gelding won the 1988 Jim Beam Stakes (GII) at Turfway Park at odds of 21-1, defeating Stalwars and Florida Derby (GI) winner Brian’s Time, and finished second to Risen Star in the Belmont Stakes (GI).  Kingpost also ran second to Jim’s Orbit in a four-horse photo finish the 1988 Derby Trial and completed his 20-race career with a record of 3-6-4 and earnings of $598,966.

BARN TALK – In addition to Keertana in the Louisville Handicap, Tom Proctor is zeroing in on two other upcoming grass stakes at Churchill Downs. Barbara Hunter’s Snow Top Mountain, winner of an optional claiming event on the Derby Day card and the younger half-sister to Keertana, is being pointed to the $100,000-added Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) at a mile and a sixteenth on June 11. Glen Hill Farm’s Banned, winner of the American Turf Presented by Ram (GII) on May 6, is being pointed to the $100,000-added Jefferson Cup (GIII) for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on June 18. …

            Shaun Bridgmohan, who won five races on the Sunday card, moved past Mark Guidry and into 18th place all time at Churchill Downs with 331 victories. It was the 55th  time a rider has won five races on a single. The track record is seven victories in day, accomplished twice, and 10 times a rider has had six victories on the card. Now the meet’s leading rider with 11 victories, Bridgmohan is one win ahead of Julien Leparoux and two up on Jon Court, the rider who is No. 17 all time at Churchill Downs with 374 victories. …

            Trainer Ian Wilkes said that Rosemary Rauch and David Zell’s Capt. Candyman Can is being pointed to the $100,000-added Aristides (GIII) to be run on June 4 at six furlongs. Fourth in the Churchill Downs (GII) at seven furlongs in his most recent start, Capt. Candyman Can is a four-time graded stakes winner including the King’s Bishop (GI) at Saratoga in 2009. …

            Nominations close Saturday for the 37th running of the $100,000-added Dogwood (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies going a mile on the main track and for the 23rd running of the $100,000-added Aristides (GIII) for sprinters going six furlongs on the main track. Both races will be run on Saturday, June 4. Ailalea won the 2010 Dogwood and Riley Tucker the 2010 Aristides.

WORK TAB – Glen Hill Farm’s Banned, winner of the American Turf (GII) at Churchill Downs in his most recent start, worked four furlongs over a track labeled as “good” on Thursday morning in :49.80. Steve Margolis sent his two Kentucky Oaks (G1) starters out for their first works since the Run for the Lilies on May 6. Bouquet Booth, fifth in the Oaks and a possible starter in the Dogwood (GIII) here on June 4, worked four furlongs in :48.40. Street Storm, eighth in the Oaks and a possible starter in the Regret (GIII) here on June 18, breezed four furlongs in :49.60. Both 3-year-old fillies are owned by Right Time Racing LLC.

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