05/23/2016 1:36PM

Bradley reflects on bond with his father

Michael Amoruso
Buff Bradley (above) followed his late father Fred into the horse business.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Buff Bradley was at the bedside of his father when Fred Bradley died Friday at age 85 – just like they were together so often in life.

“I’d jump in the car and go to the races with my mom and dad when I was little, and my brother and two sisters would just want to stay home and tease the baby-sitter,” Bradley recalled with a smile this week at his Churchill Downs barn. “If it wasn’t for my dad being into horses, it’s very possible I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

As the second of Fred Bradley’s four grown children, Buff has become a successful trainer with an uncanny knack for coming up with the occasional big horse. Buff Bradley will be forever grateful that his father was around to enjoy the exploits of their homebred standouts Brass Hat and Groupie Doll before dementia took its relentless toll.

“He was aware, I think, of Divisidero winning on Derby Day,” Bradley said, referring to the breakthrough Grade 1 triumph by his latest stable star in the May 7 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill. “Right before he died, he said, ‘I need another good horse.’ And I just smiled and told him, ‘Yeah, Dad, so do I.’ ”

Memorial services for Fred Bradley were scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in the family’s hometown of Frankfort, Ky., where Fred bought Indian Ridge Farm in 1967. A lifetime immersed in law, politics, business, and horse racing was to be celebrated by his many friends and associates, with his partner in racing, Carl Hurst, delivering the eulogy at the Wednesday funeral service.

Buff Bradley recalled how his father was able to travel to Santa Anita in 2012 to see Groupie Doll win the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint for the first of two straight years.

“I’ll always be thankful for that,” he said.

Bradley won the eighth race here Saturday with a 3-year-old gelding named Crush. “The first thing somebody said was, ‘Well, your dad helped him get there,’ ” said Bradley. “I couldn’t disagree.”