10/22/2010 9:03AM

Paddy O'Prado headed for Classic

Jeff Coady/Coady Photography
Paddy O'Prado, who counts the Colonial Turf Cup (above) among his victories, will be pre-entered in both the BC Classic and Turf.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The connections of Paddy O’Prado announced early Friday that the colt most likely will run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs, although he also will be pre-entered in the BC Turf.

Jerry Crawford, who manages the Donegal Racing partnership that owns Paddy O’Prado, said the syndicate decided at a meeting Thursday night to try for the $5 million Classic, which also is expected to get Zenyatta, Blame, Quality Road, Lookin At Lucky, and other top horses.

“We will cross pre-enter in both races, but our intention is to run in the Classic,” said Crawford.

Paddy O’Prado, a 3-year-old gray colt based at Churchill with trainer Dale Romans, was third in the Kentucky Derby and sixth in the Preakness but has raced exclusively in graded turf stakes since then, winning 3 of those 4 starts. He has earned $1.45 million.

Brass Hat sparks a celebration

It would be difficult to surpass the depth of emotion that Brass Hat sparked among his connections and fans when the 9-year-old homebred rallied Thursday under Calvin Borel to win the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland. Owner-breeder Fred Bradley and his son, trainer Buff Bradley, along with their family members and many friends, were overwhelmed with joy in a boisterous winner’s circle celebration.

“Great horse, great ride,” said Buff Bradley, who has gone through numerous highs and lows with Brass Hat.

No horse older than 9 has ever won a graded stakes in North America.

Catalano in lead despite troubles

Wayne Catalano is giving a major effort to be the leading trainer at the Keeneland fall meet. Catalano, who set an Arlington Park record for most wins by a trainer this summer, held a tenuous lead atop the standings with seven wins through Thursday (10 of 17 days) despite what he said has been tough luck at the entry booth.

“We’ve had a bunch of races not fill, and we’ve also had maybe a dozen horses get excluded,” said Catalano, who has about 50 horses here. “I know it happens with everybody, but it’s really kept us from getting a lot more horses to the gate. Maybe it’ll turn around for us a little in these last few days.”

It has been a long time since a trainer with such close Chicago ties has been the leading trainer at Keeneland. Harvey Vanier won the 1987 spring title, and Joe Bollero was leading trainer five times from the mid-1970s to early 80s.

Top prospects in maiden race

The fifth race run here Thursday seems like it might turn out to be a key race despite the low Beyer Speed Figure earned by the winner. Several of the first-timing 2-year-old colts came very highly touted by horseplayers, and even some of the participating trainers admitted to having high hopes.

The race was won in a blanket finish by Rampaige, a Smart Strike colt trained by Graham Motion. Rampaige, the 2-1 favorite in a full field, barely held off a late surge to win by a head over Wilkinson, a Lemon Drop Kid colt trained by Neil Howard.

“My colt is very smart, very nice,” said Howard. “I’d like to think he has quite a future.”

Rampaige got just a 48 Beyer in winning the Beard Course race at seven furlongs and 184 feet on Polytrack.

Northern Giant relishes switch to turf
After knocking heads with some of the best 3-year-olds around, Northern Giant may finally have found his niche. The colt has turned in three creditable efforts since trainer D. Wayne Lukas began running him on the turf, ending with a victory Thursday at Keeneland in an entry-level allowance.

“He likes the grass, but he also seems to be getting better with maturity,” said Lukas. “He’d had a real good month coming into this. It seems like we might have finally found something with him.”

Northern Giant ran in four races on the Triple Crown trail earlier this year, ending with the Preakness, in which he finished last of 12.

Bushwhacked returns after illness

Bushwhacked will make his first start since he finished second to Exhi in the Coolmore Lexington Stakes in April when he goes postward as a solid favorite in the seventh race Sunday, a first-level allowance at six furlongs on Polytrack. The 3-year-old Bushwhacked has recovered from what trainer Jonathan Sheppard described as very serious setbacks in the intervening six months.

“He nearly died this summer,” said Sheppard. “He got pneumonia, then colitis. He went to the University of Georgia and finally got over it.”