06/11/2008 12:00AM

Brass Hat in chosen spot


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Brass Hat traveled halfway around the world to finish second to a Dubai World Cup winner. It happened in March 2006, when Electrocutionist surged past Brass Hat to win the world’s richest race by 1 1/2 lengths.

Brass Hat later was accused of a medication violation and ultimately was disqualified from the runner-up’s share of $1.2 million in a decision that still rubs trainer Buff Bradley the wrong way.

But that’s an entirely different story. With the $1 million Stephen Foster Handicap set for Saturday at his home track, Churchill Downs, Bradley would be satisfied with another second-place finish behind a Dubai World Cup winner – Curlin, the 2008 champion.

“We’ve been wanting to run in this spot, though not necessarily against Curlin,” said Bradley, who trains Brass Hat, a 7-year-old homebred gelding, for his father, Fred Bradley. “This is our home track, and Brass Hat really likes it. He only ran about the last three-eighths” when closing to be fourth in his last race, the May?24 Louisville Handicap on the Churchill turf, “so he had a nice prep. Plus he has the turf-to-dirt angle going for him.”

Brass Hat, with Calvin Borel to ride, drew the far outside post in a field of 10 in the 1 1/8-mile Foster. “That shouldn’t hurt us at all,” said Bradley.

Winning Colors filly debuts Friday

Ocean Colors, the second-to-last foal out of the 1988 Kentucky Derby winner, Winning Colors, will make her career debut Friday in the fourth race at Churchill.

Bred and owned by Gainesway Thoroughbred Ltd., Ocean Colors shows a steady series of workouts for trainer Steve Asmussen. Like her mother, Ocean Colors, a 2-year-old filly by Orientate, is gray.

Winning Colors, the third and most recent filly to win the Derby, was euthanized in February following complications from colic. Her last foal is a yearling filly by Mr. Greeley.

Officials to monitor new bet

Churchill officials plan to track the new Matrix wager through the totalisator system, since all wagers are integrated into the win, exacta, and trifecta pools. The Matrix, available to ontrack patrons only, was introduced Wednesday.

The Matrix costs $9 and gives the bettor a 60-cent win bet, a 60-cent three-horse exacta box, and a 60-cent trifecta box on three horses. The minimum at Churchill is normally $2 for a win bet and $1 for a boxed exacta or trifecta.

* Elite Squadron, winner of the Churchill Downs Handicap and most recently third in the Aristides, recently received an invitation to run in the July 5 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park, said trainer Jimmy Baker. “We’re leaning that way,” said Baker.

* Going into Thursday, the next victory at Churchill for veteran jockey Larry Melancon will be his 900th at the track. Melancon, who first rode at Churchill in 1974, will become just the third rider with as many wins here. Retired Hall of Fame jockeys Pat Day, with 2,481, and Don Brumfield (925) are the only ones with more Churchill wins.

* Bernie Flint registered his 400th victory at Churchill when Saltgrass Trail won the second race Wednesday, but the veteran trainer was not on hand. Flint, 68, is recovering at home, having undergone back surgery last week. Only three trainers have won more races here: Bill Mott, D. Wayne Lukas, and Dale Romans.

* Churchill horsemen are seeking more players for a Texas hold ’em poker tournament on Monday evening in the Triple Crown Ballroom. Buy-in is $225, with proceeds going to the Backside Lifestyle Drug and Alcohol Abuse program. The tournament is limited to 250 players, with first place worth $10,000 with a full field. For more information, call (502) 363-1077.