03/20/2006 1:00AM

Brass Hat heads American contingent

Alan Weissman
Brass Hat casts a shadow in his work under the lights in Dubai.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Before he left the United States last weekend to prepare Brass Hat for Saturday's $6 million Dubai World Cup, trainer Buff Bradley sought out the advice of trainers who had made the trip in the past.

Speaking with Dale Romans, who trained 2005 Dubai World Cup winner Roses in May, Bradley learned that a prerace workout under the lights could help a horse better acclimate to the conditions for Saturday's 9:20 p.m. local post time (12:20 p.m. Eastern).

Monday evening at Nad Al Sheba racecourse, Brass Hat breezed a half-mile (800 meters) in 51.40 seconds. The workout showed Bradley that the 5-year-old gelding has taken well to his trip to the Middle East - and that he was right to heed Romans's advice.

"Dale said it was a benefit to work under the lights," said Bradley, who arrived from Kentucky early Monday. "You run for $6 million, you want to be prepared for it. You don't want any surprises."

The workout was Brass Hat's first in Dubai after arriving last week.

Brass Hat, owned by Bradley's father, Fred, is one of five American-based horses that have traveled to this Persian Gulf country in pursuit of the Dubai World Cup, the richest race in Thoroughbred racing. The World Cup is one of seven races on a program worth $21.25 million.

Brass Hat is perfect in two starts this year. He won the New Orleans Handicap at Louisiana Downs on Jan. 7 and the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 4.

Other U.S. runners in the Dubai World Cup are Choctaw Nation, who was third behind Roses in May last year; Magna Graduate, the winner of three graded stakes last fall; Super Frolic, who was fourth in the 2005 Breeders' Cup Classic; and Wilko, who was third in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 4.

Choctaw Nation, who won the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar last summer, worked about six furlongs (1,200 meters) on Monday morning. Choctaw Nation, 6, was given an official time of 1:12.88, but trainer Jeff Mullins timed the gelding much quicker.

"I got him in 1:11 flat," he said. "He went off in 14 [seconds] and finished in 10 and change."

Super Frolic worked five furlongs on Monday, finishing strongly. No time was available for the workout. Super Frolic was on the track at the same time as Choctaw Nation. Trainer Vladimir Cerin was en route from California on Monday.

Magna Graduate will gallop through the week, according to Kim Valerio, the racing manager for owner Elisabeth Alexander. Wilko is scheduled to work on turf on Wednesday.

American-trained horses have won 5 of the 10 runnings of the Dubai World Cup. In a rarity, an American-based runner is not favored with English bookmakers this year. Electrocutionist, based in Dubai, is the even-money choice.

The winner of a stakes here on March 2 and the Group 1 Juddmonte International on turf in England in 2005, Electrocutionist, 5, is owned by the Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing and trained by Saeed bin Suroor.

The ruling family of Dubai, the Maktoums won the 2002 and 2003 Dubai World Cups with Street Cry and Moon Ballad, who both raced under the Godolphin banner.

As of Monday evening, there were 12 probable starters in the Dubai World Cup, including Kane Hekili and Star King Man from Japan, Maraahel from England, Chiquitin and Simpatico Bribon from Saudi Arabia, and Shakis from the United Arab Emirates.

Three have been cross-entered for races on the undercard, with decisions due by Tuesday morning. Maraahel, third in three Group 1 races on turf last year, has been entered in the $5 million Sheema Classic on turf, Simpatico Bribon may start in the $2 million UAE Derby, and Chiquitin could start in the $1 million Godolphin Mile.

Chiquitin and Simpatico Bribon are trained by Ian Jory, who left California in early 2005 to begin training in Saudi Arabia.

Kane Hekili, 4, is considered a top contender in the big race. A winner of 8 of 12 starts, Kane Hekili won the $2.07 million Japan Cup Dirt last November and the February Stakes at a mile last month.

His trainer, Katsuhiko Sumii, won the 2005 American Oaks at Hollywood Park with Cesario.