07/06/2006 11:00PM

Injury sidelines Brass Hat

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The roller-coaster racing career of Brass Hat has hit another low point. The 5-year-old gelding suffered a fractured sesamoid in his right front ankle following a Thursday workout at the Trackside Training Center, and trainer Buff Bradley said it will take months before it can be determined whether he can return to racing.

"He was pulling up when he took a bad step," said Bradley, who trains Brass Hat for his father, Fred Bradley, the gelding's breeder and owner. "The injury won't require surgery, and it's in a good spot. It's non-displaced and not a complex fracture. Only time will tell if he can come back."

In 15 races, Brass Hat has earned more than $1.2 million, most of it from victories in the Ohio and Indiana derbies at 3, and the Donn and New Orleans handicaps early this year. He finished second in the Dubai World Cup in March and would have earned another $1.2 million, but he was disqualified for a medication positive.

The disqualification was deeply disturbing to the Bradleys, and this latest setback "was very emotional for all of us yesterday," Bradley said Friday.

Besides his six wins, all in stakes, Brass Hat's career also has been marked by a 13-month layoff, from October 2004 to November 2005, caused by a condylar fracture just above his right ankle. The latest injury is unrelated to the old one, said Bradley.

"I didn't think he'd make it back after that first fracture," he said. "Getting him back after that was a bonus. Maybe if he makes it back this time, it'll be an extra bonus. But I don't want to give anybody false hope. Even if he never makes it back, he doesn't owe us a thing. He's meant the world to our family."

Brass Hat, by Prized, will recover at the family's Indian Ridge Farm in Frankfort, Ky.