Brass Hat Schools Fairbanks in MassCap Renewal

Brass Hat Schools Fairbanks in MassCap Renewal
Photo: Chip Bott Photos
Brass Hat shows Fairbanks the way to MassCap win.
The upstart Fairbanks may have been the 7-10 favorite, but Fred Bradley’s 6-year-old Brass Hat put the youngster in his place when they hooked up in a fierce stretch duel in the Sept. 22 running of the $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs.

Fourth at the start under jockey Willie Martinez, Brass Hat rated in that position behind the front-running Fire Striker, who led the field of eight through early fractions of :24 2/5 and :49 1/5 in the 1 1/8-mile event. The Todd Pletcher-trained 4-year-old Fairbanks pressed the pace after bobbling at the start while Dr. Pleasure ran third.

In a good stalking position on the outside, Brass Hat inched up to third by the half-mile pole. He took the lead on the final turn but Fairbanks was right there, and the two raced neck-and-neck down the stretch. Although Fairbanks momentarily gained the advantage, Brass Hat fought back and cleared his competitor by three-quarters of a length. He finished in 1:49 3/5 under a confident hand ride from Martinez. Dr. Pleasure was third, while Evening Attire finished fourth.

“Our plan was not to let Fairbanks get an easy lead, keep (Brass Hat) happy and get a good position,” said Martinez. “Since we had the outside post, I was able to track everybody and dictate the race. Once I got to the first turn, we knew how good he was going to finish the race, so I was very confident that there was only one horse to beat going down the backside.”

Migliore said Fairbanks' early stumble was not the reason for failing to run down the resilient Brass Hat.

“I don’t really think it cost him,” said Migliore. “He recovered, going forward. All in all, my horse ran well, he was second best today, but I think he gave his `B’ effort today. I think he’s capable of running better.”

Brass Hat returned $10.20, $3.80, and $3 to win. Fairbanks returned $2.20 and $2.20 to place under Richard Migliore, while Dr. Pleasure paid $2.80 to show for Cornelio Velasquez.

The crowd of 19,191 was the largest attendance at the East Boston racecourse since the legendary Cigar won the MassCap in 1996.

A grade I winner and a son of Prized out of the Dixie Brass mare Brassy, Brass Hat now has eight victories from 19 career starts and boosted his career earnings to $1,582,451 for Fred Bradley and his son, trainer William "Buff" Bradley. Brass Hat came into the race off a sixth-place finish in the Sept. 1 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga.

Fred Bradley was especially pleased at Brass Hat’s effort because he had raised the racehorse himself in partnership with his son.

“I can’t describe it; he’s just special, that’s all,” Fred Bradley said. “He’s a family horse, that’s the main thing. Buff and I bought his mare, and we bred it and we foaled it, trained it and everything. It’s just been a family operation, and I really appreciate it.”

Fairbanks, who was running for a $100,000 bonus as a horse that had won a grade I race at a distance of more than one mile this year, was coming off a fourth in the July 28 Whitney Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga.

Shuffling Maddnes, Palladio and Fire Striker trailed. Who What Win scratched.

The MassCap, run for the 65th time this year, had not been run since 2004, when Ofleee Wild beat Funny Cide and The Lady’s Groom in a thrilling stretch run.

The MassCap undercard consisted of four other stakes races, including the $100,000 James B. Moseley Sprint Handicap. Heavily favored Afrashad ($2.40 to win) scored a decisive victory over his stablemate, Council Member, in a blazing 1:09.05 for six furlongs.

(Chart, Equibase)

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