07/08/2007 11:00PM

Brass Hat's record score stuns connections

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Buff Bradley scarcely could have hoped for a better comeback effort from Brass Hat. Not only did the venerable gelding win a stakes-caliber allowance race Sunday in his first start since recovering from a fractured sesamoid, but also he broke a 36-year-old track record for 1 1/16 miles when finishing in 1:41.27.

"We're all thrilled," said Bradley, who was joined in the winner's circle by dozens of family and friends, many of them from his hometown of Frankfort, Ky. "We knew he was training really well, but asking a horse to win after going through what he went through - and set a track record to boot - was just unreal."

Brass Hat, ridden by Willie Martinez, prevailed by a head over Student Council after rallying from a few lengths off the pace. He earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure with his seventh victory from 16 lifetime starts, and the race marked his first non-stakes victory. The first win of his life came in the 2004 Rushaway Stakes at Turfway Park, and he had won five stakes since then.

Brass Hat, a 6-year-old homebred owned by Buff Bradley's father, Fred, might race next in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap on July 28 at Saratoga.

"He came out of it good and ate up," Buff Bradley said Monday.

The final time eclipsed the old mark of 1:41.60 set by Yes Sir on a frozen track at the 1970 fall meet.

Also in the Sunday allowance was Perfect Drift, an earner of more than $4.6 million. The 8-year-old gelding was never a factor while finishing fifth of six starters.

Two stakes records also fall

Not only was a track record set by Brass Hat on closing weekend, but stakes records were established Saturday in the Bashford Manor and Debutante, both at six furlongs. Kodiak Kowboy won the Bashford Manor in 1:09.15, while Rated Fiesty took the Debutante in 1:09.27.

A word of caution, however. While both of those stakes for 2-year-olds are more than 100 years old, the Bashford Manor has been run at its current distance only since 1986, and the Debutante has been run at six furlongs just seven times, from 1986-90 and from 2006-07.

For trainer Steve Asmussen, the Debutante victory was his third straight, following the ones by Effectual in 2005 and Richwoman in 2006.

Big Red's mark still stands

Butch Lehr, the Churchill track superintendent since 1981, noted that with Brass Hat lowering the 1o1/16-mile record, a new main-track record has been set during his lengthy tenure at every frequently run distance except one: the 1 1/4-mile record of 1:59.40 set by Secretariat in the 1973 Kentucky Derby.

Numerous other records from a bygone era are still on the Churchill books, such as the 5:26.50 by Ten Broeck in winning a three-mile race in 1876.

Four-percent pick four takeout

Officials at Ellis Park are hoping that with the end of the live-action overlap with Churchill, simulcast players around the country will begin paying more attention to the 4 percent takeout on the daily pick four at the Henderson, Ky., track. While the first five programs of the 46-day Ellis meet coincided with the last five cards of the Churchill spring meet, handle on the Ellis pick four, which can be bet in 50-cent increments, took in an average of only about $20,000 per day.

"Hopefully, people will start looking harder at what a good deal we're offering every day," said Ellis racing secretary Dan Bork.

Simulcasts move to Trackside annex

With an outdoor concert by The Police scheduled for Saturday at Churchill, the track has shifted its simulcast operations for Louisville-area fans to the old Trackside annex this week. Simulcasting will resume at Churchill on July 18.

The Police will be the second major act to play Churchill in the last 10 months. The Rolling Stones played here last September.

* Veteran jockey Mark Guidry, who announced in April that he planned to retire some time in August at Arlington Park after more than 30 years in the saddle, has postponed his retirement, saying he will wait until he can begin attending a stewards' accreditation school at the University of Louisville in November.