After nine consecutive races on turf Fred Bradley’s Brass Hat will return to dirt, where he has experienced most of his success during a remarkable career. The 9-year-old earner of more than $2 million is one of the horses to beat in the $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (gr. II) on June 26.
The 1 1/8-mile Cornhusker, which drew a field of nine, is one of three graded stakes on the second day of the Prairie Meadows Iowa Festival of Racing program. The June 26 card also includes the $250,000 Iowa Derby (gr. III) and $200,000 Iowa Oaks (gr. III). Opening night of the festival will feature the $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap, the $100,000 Iowa Distaff, and the $100,000 Saylorville.
Brass Hat won once during his span of turf starts, which began in March 2009 and consisted mainly of 12-furlong races. That win came in last year’s Louisville Handicap (gr. IIIT), the fifth graded stakes triumph of his career. The gelded son of Prized—Brassy, by Dixie Brass, is 0-for-3 this season, but was runner-up in the Fifth Third Elkhorn Stakes (gr. IIT) in April at Keeneland and third last out in the Louisville Handicap May 22 at Churchill Downs.
Buff Bradley trains Brass, Hat, the 7-2 second choice whose biggest win came in the 2004 Donn Handicap (gr. I). Calvin Borel will be aboard for the horse’s 37th lifetime start.
The 3-1 morning-line favorite is Peachtree Stable’s Mythical Power, winner of the Texas Mile (gr. III) April 24 at Lone Star Park. That was the second stakes win for the 4-year-old son of Congaree, who scored in the Lone Star Derby (gr. III) in 2009.
Bob Baffert trains California-based Mythical Power, who like Brass Hat will carry 117 pounds. The bay colt enters the Cornhusker off a disappointing eighth-place finish as the beaten favorite in the Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III) May 31. Martin Garcia keeps the mount, and they will break from post 3.
Also in the mix for the top prize is William Stiritz’s Racing Bran, a winner in three of his four starts this season. The 5-year-old gelded son of Awesome Again romped in the Essex Handicap at Oaklawn in February and prevailed by a head last out in the Milwaukee Avenue Handicap April 24 at Hawthorne, a 1 1/16-mile race restricted to Illinois-breds.
Christopher Emigh will ride Racing Bran for trainer Scott Becker.
The Friday evening program is highlighted by the Iowa Sprint Handicap, which features morning-line favorite Atta Boy Roy, winner of the Churchill Downs Stakes (gr. II) last month and runner-up in the Aristides (gr. III) last out. First post both nights is 6:30 p.m. CST.
$300,000 Cornhusker Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, 9:50 p.m. CST), 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Red Lead (FL), R Zimmerman, 117, C A Hartman, 9/2
2. Slew's Tizzy (KY), R Albarado, 115, T Oliver, 12/1
3. Mythical Power (KY), M Garcia, 117, B Baffert, 3/1
4. Racing Bran (IL), C A Emigh, 115, S Becker, 9/2
5. King Dan (KY), T J Hebert, 114, D E Keen, 10/1
6. Going Ballistic (FL), M C Berry, 114, D K Von Hemel, 8/1
7. Golden Yank (KY), S Bridgmohan, 114, G A Thomas, 10/1
8. Brass Hat (KY), C H Borel, 117, W Bradley, 7/2
9. Shadowbdancing (FL), E Razo Jr., 117, T Gore, 5/1