07/01/2004 11:00PM

Brass Hat hurt, won't race until fall

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Grade 2 Ohio Derby winner Brass Hat is unlikely to race until the fall due to an ankle injury, trainer William Bradley said.

Bradley said Brass Hat appeared to have wrenched his right front ankle during his June 12 Ohio Derby victory over Illinois Derby winner Pollard's Vision. The ankle was examined last week at Lexington's Hagyard Davidson McGee Clinic.

"They said that he may have just bruised it or wrenched it, and they said to give him about three more weeks off and I could start jogging him," said Bradley.

"We decided to go on and give him off until the middle of August anyhow and then get him ready for the fall."

Bradley said Brass Hat was "walking a little gingerly" on the ankle when cooling out after the Ohio Derby.

Brass Hat, a 3-year-old son of Prized who is owned by Bradley's father, former Kentucky Sen. Fred Bradley, began his career in a maiden $15,000 claiming race in the winter at Turfway Park. This spring, he was an upset winner of the Rushaway Stakes on the Spiral undercard at more than 38-1.

Foley spotted backstretch bargain

One of the better 2-year-old purchases of this year didn't take place at Ocala or Keeneland, but on the Churchill Downs backstretch.

This spring, while watching horses breeze from a backstretch clocker's stand, trainer Greg Foley was impressed by a work turned in by an unraced filly trained by Dale Romans.

"She breezed a quick three-eighths and galloped out strong," he said. "She was a handful pulling up, even when she passed us at the clocker's stand."

Foley inquired about buying the filly, a daughter of Eltish, and he and Romans settled on terms. Now that filly, Sweet Miss El, heads into Sunday's Debutante unbeaten in two starts for Foley and her owners, Bakster Farm.

"Hopefully we can win that race on Sunday and make her worth something," he said. "She doesn't have a lot of pedigree, but if she wins that Grade 3 in the Debutante, then she's made herself."

Martinez lights up board again

Jockey Willie Martinez continued his trend of riding longshot winners, riding Northlander to an upset victory in Thursday's sixth race at odds of over 22-1. His average winning payoff this meet is $20.70, highest of any top-10 rider. On Sunday he will be gunning for another upset win in the Debutante, when he rides Runway Model for trainer Bernie Flint.

Runway Model, a 2-year-old daughter of Petionville, has made steady progress with each start. After finishing fifth in her debut, she ran third behind Sweet Miss El in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race and then won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race June 6. The latter two races came with Martinez aboard.

"The 4 1/2 furlongs didn't help her," Martinez said. "That particular race showed me that she didn't want to be rushed. It was a good learning experience. And she really showed up in her last."

Through Thursday, Martinez ranked ninth in the standings with 24 winners from 230 mounts.

Lunarpal goes for stakes sweep

Since Churchill began a three-race series of juvenile stakes during the spring meet, just one horse - 1997 Horse of the Year Favorite Trick - has won all three races. He did it as part of his unbeaten 2-year-old season, which was capped by a victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

On Monday, Lunarpal will seek to become just the second horse to complete the Churchill sweep when he starts as the favorite in the Bashford Manor Stakes. He is expected to face Raise Ole Glory, who won his maiden with an 87 Beyer Speed Figure last month, and five or six other recent maiden graduates.

Trainer Dale Romans plans to start a pair of runners, Smoke Warning and Maximus C. Smoke Warning finished third in the Kentucky Breeders' Cup, beaten two lengths by Lunarpal, in the third start of his career.

"He ran a better number last time," Romans said, which is reflected in his 78 Beyer. "I think his seasoning will help him."

Maximus C is just as fast. He lacks the seasoning of Lunarpal and Smoke Warning, but won his only start May 15, defeating a good group of maidens, including Raise Ole Glory.

Romans scratched Maximus C from the Kentucky Breeders' Cup to point for an allowance in mid-June. That race didn't fill, forcing Romans to stretch out Maximus C from a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race into a six-furlong stakes.

"I don't think it will bother him," Romans said. "He's bred for longer races," being by Coronado's Quest out of an Alleged mare.

* Alumni Hall, prepping for the Black Tie Affair Handicap at Arlington on July 10, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 on Friday. A 5-year-old brother to 2000 Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Status, he comes off a pair of allowance victories at Churchill Downs.