On Oct. 20, one year after winning the Sycamore (gr. IIIT), Keeneland patrons will be able to pay tribute to the now-retired fan favorite Brass Hat.
Plans call for the 10-year-old gelding, who earned $2,173,561 in his remarkable career, to follow the horses that are racing in Keeneland’s seventh race to the saddling paddock and remain in one of the stalls. Following the trophy presentation for the race, Brass Hat will be paraded around the walking ring, where breeder-owner Fred Bradley will pose with him.
Earlier this year Brass Hat was retired to Bradley’s Indian Ridge Farm in Frankfort, Ky. Maria Kabel, assistant to trainer Buff Bradley, a resident on the farm and who first rode Brass Hat when he was a youngster, began riding the retiree in a Western saddle because Buff wanted to use him as a pleasure-riding mount.
Brass Hat is currently stabled with the Bradleys racehorses in Barn 2 in the stall next to Groupie Doll, who is expected to start in the Oct. 22 Lexus Raven Run (gr. II). The gelding has had numerous visitors who bring him apples and carrots or feed him the peppermints the Bradley crew has stocked for such occasions.
Kabel has been riding Brass Hat while she accompanies the first two sets of Bradley horses to the track to train in the mornings. However, the gelding is not expected to become a full-time pony.
“I was riding him all morning, but I had a couple of bad horses that he couldn’t do anything with,” Kabel said. “He was going to bite them. He was like, ‘No way, I’m not your pony.’ So I had to bring my pony back in. But he’s fun to go out there and ride. Everybody goes by and says, ‘Hey, Brass. Brass is here.”
The Sycamore marked one of Brass Hat’s nine stakes wins, which included the 2006 Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park. The gelding made six starts at Keeneland during his 40-race career, which was interrupted by several significant injuries.
Kabel said Brass Hat has enjoyed being back at Keeneland, where Buff has ridden him.
“He likes the attention,” she said. “He’s an attention hound, and he knows when everybody’s looking at him.”