Fan favorite Brass Hat, a millionaire who won 10 of 40 starts in a remarkable career that saw him overcome two serious injuries, has been retired, trainer Buff Bradley said May 24.
Bradley, who trained 10-year-old Brass Hat for his father, owner-breeder Fred Bradley, said the Prized gelding retired soundly and after spending the rest of the week at Churchill Downs, will live out his life at the family’s Indian Ridge Farm near Frankfort., Ky.
Brass Hat retired with earnings of $2,173,561. He won nine stakes—six of them graded—and placed in 10 others. His biggest win came in the 2006 Donn Handicap (gr. I), where he set the nine-furlong track record. He also set the 1 1/16-mile track record at Churchill Downs in 2007 when returning from a more than one-year layoff.
He won eight times on dirt, twice on grass, and eight of his 10 wins came at different racetracks.
Brass Hat’s last win came in the Sycamore (gr. IIIT) last October at Keeneland. He made his final start in the Clark Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill, finishing sixth. The Bradleys were targeting a 2011 campaign, but decided earlier this week that he had done enough.
“He has been galloping strongly at Churchill Downs, but we just didn’t feel as confident with him,” Buff Bradley said. “It’s been a little harder to get him fit and knowing how much work we had to do with him for what was only going to be probably two starts this year, we figured it was time. He was training super and there was nothing wrong with him, but both of us felt that it was time. He has done enough.
“We always said that we would never push it with him. We were finally seeing some signs of wear and tear, although his mental attitude was still great. It’s emotional but we’re comfortable with the decision.”
Bradley said he will talk to Churchill Downs management May 25 about possibly having an event to honor Brass Hat the weekend of May 27-29. He also extended an open invitation to fans to come visit the horse at the family farm, where he was born and raised.
“I hope they have something for him, even if it’s just to have Calvin (Borel) gallop him once around the track,” Bradley said of Churchill. “I’d be open to that.
“It’s a little sad for us, but at least we will get to enjoy him every day. And I hope fans will come and see him. We’re right between Lexington and Louisville, and we’re about 15 minutes from Old Friends. People are welcomed to come on by.”
Bradley said the Donn is probably Brass Hat’s biggest win, but his biggest achievement may have been the 2007 allowance win at 6 when he came back from the second of his two serious leg injuries to defeat Student Council
by a head. Student Council won two consecutive races after that, a grade I and grade II.
The Bradleys biggest disappointment with Brass Hat came in the 2006 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) when he finished runner-up but was later disqualified for a medication violation. Brass Hat was stripped of all of his $1.2 million in earnings. The Bradleys bitterly disputed the ruling, but were unsuccessful in gettingt it reversed.
Stewards disqualified Brass Hat, and moved Wilko to second, after a post-race test detected a trace of the drug methyl prednisolone acetate. While the outcome of the positive test was not in dispute, the Bradleys contended that the administration of the therapeutic medication 28 days prior to the World Cup was well within the guidelines distributed by the ERA to trainers with horses running in the world's richest race. Those guidelines, listed on the sheet of "Dubai Equine Hospital Medication Withdrawals," show a 23-day withdrawal time for methyl prednisolone acetate, indicating the time frame in which it can be given a horse and not be detected in the horse's system in a post-race test.
Bradley, who has 28 horses stabled at Churchill, said he hopes there will be another Brass Hat type in his future, but knows he was probably a once-in-a-lifetime horse.
“We went through so much together over the last 10 years," Bradley said. "He is such a special horse and he will live a good life at our farm. He deserves it.”