05/24/2011 9:30AM

Brass Hat retired at age 10 after 40 starts

Coady Photography/Keeneland
Brass Hat has been retired from racing at age 10.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Brass Hat, the venerable gelding who earned nearly $2.2 million while becoming a sentimental favorite of racing fans in Kentucky and beyond, has been retired at age 10, it was announced Tuesday morning by owner-breeder Fred Bradley and his son, trainer Buff Bradley.

Buff Bradley, based at Churchill Downs, said in an e-mail to friends and family that he and his father “both knew this day would come” and that “we know how fortunate we have been to have foaled, raised, and raced such a true racehorse.” Brass Hat, he added, “has been a very special animal, not only to our family and the employees of Bradley Racing Stable, but also to many Thoroughbred race fans.”

Brass Hat had 40 career starts, with his biggest victories coming in the Ohio and Indiana derbies at 3, the New Orleans and Donn handicaps at 5, the Massachusetts Handicap at 6, the Louisville Handicap at 8, and, in what amounted to an emotional swan song, the Sycamore Handicap at Keeneland last fall at 9. He retires with 10 wins, 8 seconds, 5 thirds, and earnings of $2,173,561. His final start resulted in a seventh-place finish last fall in the Clark Handicap at Churchill. Willie Martinez and Calvin Borel were his primary riders.

The most disappointing aspect of the gelding’s career came in 2006, when he finished second in the Dubai World Cup, a placing worth $1.2 million. But he was subsequently disqualified and stripped of all earnings for a medication violation, the basis of which the Bradleys bitterly disputed through legal means, to no avail.

Brass Hat, by Prized out of Brassy, will retire to where he was raised – on the Bradleys’s Indian Ridge Farm in Frankfort, Ky., where the family is well known because of Fred Bradley’s lengthy careers as a businessman and politician. The elder Bradley has since retired and lives part of the year in Alabama.

Buff Bradley said he could have kept going with Brass Hat, but the signs of age were finally starting to show.

“He has been daily galloping strongly but recently does not appear to be as free-moving as he was once,” he said. “He is in good health.”