BRASS HAT COULD RETURN TO THE DIRT – After nine consecutive starts against graded-stakes company on the grass, a change in venue could be in store for Fred Bradley’s homebred veteran Brass Hat.
“I’d like to find an easier spot for him and I haven’t ruled out going back to the dirt,” trainer Buff Bradley, the owner-breeder’s son, said in the wake of Brass Hat’s third-place finish in last Saturday’s Louisville Handicap (GIII) behind Free Fighter.
“He tries hard every time he runs, but with his style in the mile and a half races he runs, he is at the mercy of the pace. I may have to run him shorter, so they will come back to him. A mile and an eighth is a possibility.”
After winning the Louisville Handicap last year, Brass Hat hit the road and recorded third-place finishes in the United Nations (GI) at Monmouth Park and the Sword Dancer (GI) at Saratoga.
“Saratoga was too tough,” Bradley said. “I don’t know where I am going to run, but I know it won’t be on Polytrack.”
Brass Hat, whose actual birthday was last Saturday when he turned 9, returned to Fred Bradley’s farm in Frankfort on Monday for a week of R & R.
“He came out of the race good,” Buff Bradley said. “He will get a week off and maybe even a couple of extra days depending on what my dad and I plan for him.”
Brass Hat’s most recent start on dirt came in the 2008 Stephen Foster (GI) when he ran fifth behind two-time Horse of the Year Curlin. His most recent dirt victory came in the 2007 Massachusetts Handicap, one of seven stakes wins for Brass Hat on dirt.
STALL TURNS SLOW WINTER INTO BANNER SPRING – The number practically screams off the page: 91.
That’s the in-the-money percentage through the first 18 days of the Spring Meet for trainer Al Stall Jr. Stall has saddled five winners with three seconds and two thirds, a 180-degree turnaround from the season he had at Fair Grounds.
“January, February and March were the three worst months I have had in years,” said Stall, who ended the nearly five-month meet with only 15 winners from 128 starters. “For whatever reason, my horses didn’t run and they sure didn’t use their conditions up.”
Stall, who has 16 horses stabled at Churchill Downs along with a 25-horse string at Louisiana Downs and 20 at Keeneland, accepts the pendulum swing as part of the game.
"There is no rhyme or reason to it,” Stall said. “But for a claiming trainer, he can have no turnover in the barn and they get some new stock in and things can turn around quick.”
Tne horse that is not part of Stall’s current statistics at Churchill Downs is stable star Blame, who made a winning 2010 debut in the W.D. Schaefer Handicap (GIII) at Pimlico on May 15.
Blame is back at Keeneland, where Stall has all horses owned by Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm housed.
“I will probably breeze him Saturday or Sunday,” Stall said of Blame, whose next race is scheduled to be the $600,000 Stephen Foster (GI) here on June 12. “I may just leave him over there until the Foster or come over the day before and not risk getting hung up the day of the race in the construction on I-64.”
Blame, a 4-year-old homebred son of Arch, has compiled a record of 9-6-1-2 for earnings of $676,747. He will bring a three-race win streak into the Stephen Foster after closing 2009 with victories in the Fayette (GII) at Keeneland and the Clark Handicap (GII) at Churchill Downs.
“WORK MATE” GETS HIS DAY IN THE SUN – During the two weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby, Awesome Act was accompanied through his morning exercise daily by a chestnut who wore a yellow saddle towel adorned with the words “Work Mate”.
In Thursday’s third race, “Work Mate” will hit the track as a solo act under his proper name: Peace Town.
Owned by Vinery Stables, the co-owner of Awesome Act, Peace Town is a 4-year-old Maryland-bred Peace Rules colt trained by Steve Asmussen. Racing primarily on the Mid-Atlantic circuit in the care of trainer Michael Trombetta, Peace Town has compiled a record of 13-5-2-0 for earnings of $152,267.
Thursday’s race, a $50,000 claiming event at five furlongs on the turf, will be Peace Town’s first race for Asmussen.
BARN TALK – Jockey Calvin Borel was off all of his mounts Thursday. “He’ll ride tomorrow,” agent Jerry Hissam said of Borel, who has been sidelined by an eye infection since May 16. Borel, who leads all riders with 22 victories this spring here, is named on eight mounts on Friday’s 11-race card. …
Trainer Tom Proctor, who won the Regret (GIII) last year with Keertana, will try for a repeat in this year’s renewal to be run June 12 with Keertana’s half-sister, Snow Top Mountain. Both fillies are homebreds for owner Barbara Hunter. Snow Top Mountain was an allowance winner here on May 13. Proctor also plans to run Patinack Farm and Tim Turney’s Queen of the Creek, a Keeneland allowance winner who broke her maiden here last fall, in the Regret. Proctor, who has won seven stakes at Churchill Downs, also won the Regret in 2005 with Rich In Spirit. …
Trainer Dale Romans, seeking to become the second trainer at Churchill Downs to record 500 victories beneath the Twin Spires, has six runners entered Thursday and four Friday. Tied for fourth in the trainer standings with six victories this meet, Romans has 494 career wins at Churchill Downs, trailing only Bill Mott (630).
WORK TAB – Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’Prado worked a half-mile on a firm Matt Winn Turf Course in :48.80 with Mary Doser up. Sixth in the Preakness in his most recent start, Paddy O’Prado ran third in the Kentucky Derby and could return to the turf in the $100,000-added Jefferson Cup (GIII) on June 12. Paddy O’Prado has a record of 4-1-1-2 on the grass with the victory coming in the Palm Beach (GIII) at Gulfstream Park in March. … IEAH Stables and Resolute Group Stables’ Court Vision, second in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) in his most recent start, worked six furlongs on the fast main track in 1:15.60.
HEADTAP TO PERFORM DURING FRIDAY HAPPY HOURS – This week’s “Dress to Impress” Friday Happy Hours from 4-7 p.m. in Churchill Downs’ paddock area will showcase live music by Headtap, $2 Anheuser Busch draft beer, $3 Bacardi mojitos and $2 hot dogs.
Also, one male and one female deemed “most stylish” will a $100 wagering voucher and $250 gift certificate to a local Louisville area boutique, respectively. Weekly winners will be invited back for the finals on Friday, June 25 for a chance to win a shopping spree in Chicago, which includes hotel and a $1,500 Visa gift card.
TRAINER STEVE MARGOLIS WILL BE SPECIAL ‘GET IN THE GAME WITH JILL BYRNE’ GUEST ON SATURDAY – Trainer Steve Margolis, who will saddle Cash Refund in the Aristides and Visavis in the Dogwood on Saturday, will be Saturday’s “Get in the Game with Jill Byrne” special guest. Byrne and Margolis will discuss several topics including Saturday’s stakes events, plus Stay Put’s upcoming start in the June 5 Belmont Stakes. The weekly 30-minute seminars offer fans an insider look at the world of horse racing every Saturday in the paddock area starting at 11:45 a.m. Also, it will be televised on television monitors throughout Churchill Downs.
HORSEMEN’S GOLF SCRAMBLE RETURNS ON JUNE 8 – The second annual Horsemen’s Golf Scramble will be held Tuesday, June 8 at the Glenmary Country Club in Fern Creek, Ky. to help raise funds for the Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs. The cost of the golf outing is $100 per player with four players to a team. Players will be treated to an 11 a.m. lunch. The 18-hole tournament will begin with a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. There will be contests for the longest drive, closest to the pin, and a hole-in-one in which someone could win a 2010 Toyota Corolla from Oxmoor Toyota. Registration is due Friday and entry forms can be found at the Backside Learning Center or by visiting www.derbymusuem.org/backsidelc.