03/23/2006 1:00AM

Brass Hat in ring for cut of $6 million

Magna Graduate gallops under Angel Cordero Jr. in Dubai Thursday. Saeed Bin Suroor trains Electrocutionist. Buff Bradley sends out Brass Hat.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Buff Bradley, the trainer of Brass Hat, sat in a clubhouse on the Nad Al Sheba backstretch earlier this week recalling the unlikely sequence of events that brought him and his millionaire gelding to the Middle East for Saturday's $6 million , the world's richest race.

Bradley remembered Brass Hat's wins in the 2004 Ohio and Indiana derbies as well as the frightening cannon bone fracture that occurred when Brass Hat finished ninth in the Lone Star Derby that October.

"I can remember thinking, 'Let's just save him and put him out on the farm,' " Bradley recalled, blinking hard. "It wasn't pretty."

The veterinarians advised a lengthy break. Bradley gave Brass Hat more than a year. Since returning, Brass Hat has staged a remarkable comeback that has taken him to the top of the American handicap division and to the other side of the world.

"It's been a pleasant surprise to us," Bradley said. "We thought he'd come back good and strong, but you never know. Everything worked out really well."

The Dubai World Cup is the top event on a program that includes six Thoroughbred stakes worth a combined $21.25 million. Among them are the two richest turf races in the world, the Dubai Sheema Classic and Dubai Duty Free, each worth $5 million.

Two winning streaks are at stake in the Dubai World Cup, run at about 1 1/4 miles. Brass Hat has won his last three starts. American-trained horses have won the last two runnings of the Dubai World Cup - Pleasantly Perfect in 2004 and Roses in May last year.

Owned by Bradley's father, Fred, Brass Hat started his streak in the Prairie Bayou Stakes at Turfway Park in December and continued it in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at Louisiana Downs in January and the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park in February.

While Brass Hat has outstanding credentials - 6 wins in 13 starts and earnings of $1,217,090 - he must beat four Americans and six foreign-based horses.

Breaking from post 7 under jockey Willie Martinez, Brass Hat is likely to be well off the pace for the first half-mile. Bradley knows that Martinez must save something for Nad Al Sheba's three-furlong stretch.

"I've seen him run both ways," Buff Bradley said. "I don't know how much pace there will be. If it's strong, he can be further back. Willie knows him and he has confidence in him. He's been off the pace in a slow race."

Brass Hat will face local stakes winner Electrocutionist, who drew the rail, and the Japanese champion Kane Hekili, a winner of 8 of 12 starts.

Electrocutionist, a Group 1 winner on turf in England and Italy last year, is favored with English bookmakers. Owned by the Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing, Electrocutionist is making his second start on dirt, having won his dirt debut by seven lengths in Round 3 of the Maktoum Challenge here on March 2.

"I'm not confident, but his first test was good," jockey Frankie Dettori said. "It's difficult competition on Saturday."

The other Americans in the race are Choctaw Nation, who was third in this race last year; Magna Graduate, who won three graded stakes last fall but was fourth in the Donn Handicap; Super Frolic, who was fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic last October; and Wilko, the winner of the 2004 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Choctaw Nation was beaten 4 1/2 lengths by Roses in May. The experience from that race will be invaluable on Saturday for jockey Victor Espinoza, trainer Jeff Mullins said.

"Victor said if he'd been riding for second, he could have been second," Mullins said of Choctaw Nation's finish last year. Choctaw Nation "is a little tighter this year," Mullins said.

Magna Graduate will race near the lead, which trainer Todd Pletcher hopes will help his chances. Magna Graduate used that style to win the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs last November.

"I think with the American contingent he fits well," he said. "He'll be forwardly placed. I'd like to get a jump on them."

Super Frolic and Wilko will be longshots. Super Frolic was eighth in the Donn Handicap, while Wilko was a well-beaten third in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 4.

Trainer Vladimir Cerin said Super Frolic has been vibrant since arriving in Dubai.

"I can't say he's flat - that won't be an excuse," Cerin said.

The other starters are Chiquitin from Saudi Arabia, Maraahel from England, Shakis from the United Arab Emirates, and Star King Man from Japan.

Post time for the Dubai World Cup is 9:20 p.m. in Dubai, which is 12:20 p.m. Eastern and 9:20 a.m. Pacific.

The field

Dubai World Cup
Purse: $6 million; 1 1/14 miles; Group 1

41ElectrocutionistL. Dettori 8-5
82ShakisW. Supple50-1
53Kane HekiliY. Take 5-1
34Choctaw NationV. Espinoza 15-1
25ChiquitinM. Kinane 50-1
76MaraahelR. Hills 15-1
17Brass HatW. Martinez 4-1
68Magna GraduateJ. Velazquez 10-1
119WilkoG. Gomez 20-1
910Star King ManO. Peslier 25-1
1011Super FrolicC. Nakatani 8-1

* All horses carry 126
* Odds by Alan Shuback