Brass Hat and rider Willie Martinez came from the back of the field to surge past Suave and Hasslefree on his way to capturing the $511,300 Indiana Derby (gr. II) at Hoosier Park Saturday night. The winner, coming off an extended layoff following his score in the Ohio Derby (gr. II) June 12, completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.
Avid Skier (Jose Delgado) and Bob and Beverly Lewis' Hasslefree (John McKee), broke well from the gate and established the early :22.4 first quarter pace before Padua Stables' Quintons Gold Rush and Jay Em Ess Stable's Suave swept to the lead from the four and five paths on the way to a :47 half mile. Suave held the lead for Brian Peck through the three-quarter pole (1:12) until the top of the stretch, but Martinez was already underway with the 10-1 shot Brass Hat, picking off horses before swinging five-wide in the final turn to gain command in mid-stretch.
The Prized gelding, owned by Fred Bradley and trained by his son, William, wore down the competition in the stretch to earn the victory by a 1 ¾-length margin. The sophomore is out of Dixie Brass mare Brassy, which the family purchased for $5,000 in 1996.
"He's a versatile kind of horse. We knew we had a good horse coming in," said Martinez. "He overcame a lot of things in the Ohio Derby."
According to William "Buff" Bradley, a rough trip in the Ohio Derby was compounded when the 3-year-old came back from the stake with an injury. Brass Hat sustained a bruised pastern bone that required three weeks' rest. The Bradleys did not expect to be ready for the Indiana Derby, but when William began to train him back, Brass Hat surprised them.
"Good horses make you look good," the trainer said. "He was pretty fit. They told me back at the barn he had been running the whole time. I was surprised we were ready."
Brass Hat earned $306,780 in the victory, bringing his career bankroll to $624,430. The winner paid $22, $8 and $5.60. Suave, the fifth choice, returned $9.80 and $7.20 and completed the $109 exacta. The trifecta, which included 30-1 Hasslefree, resulted in a $3,024.40 payout.
The remainder of the field finished as follows: Sir Shackleton, Perfect Moon, Pollard's Vision, Avid Skier, Edgerrin and Quintons Gold Rush.