Owner/Breeder Fred Bradley Dies at 85

Owner/Breeder Fred Bradley Dies at 85
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Fred Bradley with Groupie Doll, May 2012

Fred Bradley, a longtime owner and breeder in Kentucky who campaigned homebreds Brass Hat and Groupie Doll, died May 20 at age 85. He had been in declining health the past couple of years.

Bradley, who bred and raised horses at his Indian Ridge Farm near Frankfort, Ky. is the father of trainer William "Buff" Bradley, who conditioned Groupie Doll and Brass Hat.

Fred Bradley grew up in tiny Providence, a coal-mining town in western Kentucky. While in the Air Force he flew jet fighters in Korea and Vietnam before retiring as a general at age 60. He also raced stock cars, owned a trucking company, started a successful law practice, and served as a county judge in Frankfort and then as a Kentucky state senator. For a decade he was an attorney for the state racing commission.

Fred and Buff Bradley built up the 320-acre Indian Ridge from scratch, driving every post and putting up every piece of fencing. They grew tobacco and hay there for many years, and Fred loved spending time with his horses there.

He started in horse racing running bets for his father at Dade (now Ellis) Park when he was 6.

"I couldn’t cash ‘em, but I could bet ‘em," he said in a 2012 interview. "Right away I loved watching the horses."

At the 1996 Keeneland September yearling sale Fred Bradley gave $5,000 for a Dixie Brass filly he named Brassy. Unraced, he bred her to Prized and got Brass Hat, who won nine stakes races, six of them graded, including the 2006 Donn Handicap (gr. I). Brass Hat, who earned $2,173,561, resides at Indian Ridge.

At the same sale a year later, the Bradleys paid $25,000 for a Silver Deputy filly they named Deputy Doll. She would win two races before being retired and bred to Bowman’s Band. That mating produced Groupie Doll, a two-time Eclipse Award winner in 2012 and 2013 as champion female sprinter. Groupie Doll won the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) in both years and earned $2,648,850. The Bradleys sold her at the 2013 Keeneland November breeding stock sale for $3.1 million to Whisper Hill Farm.

“Does it surprise me we got another good one? No,” Fred Bradley said during Groupie Doll’s heyday. “We’re always looking for the next one.”

Bradley shared his good fortune with Carl Hurst, with whom he practiced law for 37 years; and Brent Burns, a singer and songwriter from Alabama who was wounded in the Vietnam War. He brought both in as minority partners on Groupie Doll.

Said Buff Bradley in 2012, “My dad is crazy about watching races, whether it’s a grade I or a $5,000 claimer. He enjoys watching horses run to their ability, and he’s given each horse every chance and opportunity because of this farm.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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