Fred Bradley’s homebred Brass Hat tuned up for a Nov. 23 engagement in the $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (gr. II) by working five furlongs in 1:00.60 under jockey Willie Martinez Nov. 16 at Churchill Downs.
The move was third-best of 39 at the distance on a track labeled fast on a cool, crisp morning. It was Brass Hat’s second work since he finished eighth in the Oct. 27 Fayette Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland. As usual, the 6-year-old Prized gelding wore blinkers.
“I debated whether to take the blinkers off and work him in company, but I decided to leave them on to keep him focused and I wanted him to finish well,” trainer William “Buff” Bradley said. “He was clicking off his last eighths in 11 and change, and he galloped out in 1:13 and four. He wasn’t blowing at all when he came back.”
Brass Hat has career earnings of $1,582,451 with eight victories in 20 starts. Martinez has been along for the ride in the gelding’s past 14 starts.
“He has been like an ATM for us,” Martinez said. “When he shows up, he shows up big.”
Brass Hat missed a year of racing after suffering a fractured sesamoid in his right front leg in the summer of 2006. Since his return, Martinez has noticed a slight change in the horse’s running style.
“He has gotten a lot wiser and has learned to take care of himself,” Martinez said. “He’ll let me know if he’s going to run great. I can tell in the first jump out of the gate. At Keeneland (in the Fayette), he didn’t like the Polytrack and I knew that day he was not going to run his race.”
Brass Hat has let Martinez know he likes Churchill.
“He handles the Churchill Downs surface better than any other he has been on,” Martinez said. “The last time he ran here, he broke the track record (for a mile and a sixteenth). He has been working well and I think he will run big.”