10/22/2007 11:00PM

Parading adds blinkers - and tries easier spot

EmailSent off at 3-1 odds in an Oct. 7 allowance race at Keeneland, Parading looked like he should have been even money in midstretch. Advancing on the outside, he pulled alongside Equitable, the leader, and appeared poised to surge past.

But he stayed even-paced through the final sixteenth of the mile, failing to find the finish necessary to catch the leader.

In Thursday's featured eighth race at Keeneland, one of three first-level allowances on the nine-race card, he has an opportunity to make amends. Equipped with blinkers for the first time, he appears to be in a race he can win.

The 1 1/16-mile turf race, which carries a $52,000 purse, appears somewhat easier than the allowance in which he competed last out. Of his opponents not exiting maiden or claiming races, only Biggerbadderbetter comes off a top-three finish, having run third, a length behind Parading, in the Oct. 7 allowance.

Rafael Bejarano, in a tight race for leading rider going into the last week of the meet, rides Parading for trainer Shug McGaughey and owner Phipps Stable.

Besides Biggerbadderbetter, the opposition is headed by Kalgoorlie, a European invader with stakes experience, and Warn, a maiden winner at Saratoga who failed to fire in his lone allowance start, finishing ninth at Saratoga on Sept. 3.

In one of the two other allowances on the card, a pair of graded-placed colts, Quasicobra and Grapelli, move to the turf in the fourth race after a couple of lackluster efforts over Polytrack. Then in the seventh race, Gallant Again and Stand Tall, two horses coming off competitive allowance efforts at Presque Isle, take on the stakes-placed Rutledge Cat, who makes his first start since running seventh in the March 3 John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway.

Long race for 2-year-olds

It is understandable if the field is a bit weary crossing the wire in Thursday's fifth race at Keeneland. The race, at 1 1/8 miles over the Polytrack, is long for 2-year-olds in early fall.

Until late November, when Aqueduct stages the Grade 2 Remsen and Grade 2 Demoiselle at 1 1/8 miles, races at that distance for 2-year-olds are infrequent. In fact, up until Sunday, when Keeneland ran another 1 1/8-mile maiden race for juveniles, a race that Celestial Comet won, there had not been a race for 2-year-olds beyond 1 1/16 miles in North America this year.

The uncoupled entrants trained by Ken McPeek, Nistle's Crunch and Hard Strike, appear formidable Thursday, having run second and third, respectively, in their debuts.

Cosmic, a son of El Prado out of champion Heavenly Prize, has the pedigree to relish the 1 1/8-mile distance. He is a half-brother to graded stakes winners Pure Prize and Grand Reward.

Big turnout for Brass Hat

Mass Cap winner Brass Hat is expected to headline the field for Saturday's closing-day Grade 3 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland.

The 6-year-old gelding, a winner of 8 of 19 starts and more than $1.5 million for trainer Buff Bradley, will be making just his second career start at Keeneland. His only other start at the track was in April 2004, when he ran fourth in the Forerunner Stakes on turf.

Brass Hat, owned by Buff's father, the former Kentucky state senator Fred Bradley, won't be lacking ontrack support. Buff Bradley said much of his family would come from Frankfort to see the horse run at Keeneland, perhaps even Buff's 95-year-old grandmother.

"He's traveled the world," he said of Brass Hat. "Staying closer to home will be nice."

Kentucky Cup Classic third-place finisher Stream Cat heads the likely opposition. Other probable starters include Demeteor, Dr. Pleasure, Go Between, Kona Blend, Save Big Money, and Tap Dancing Mauk.

Ascertain's next?

Ascertain, who won the $100,000 Remington Green Stakes at Remington Park on Sunday in his first start since taking the Grade 3 Elkorn at Keeneland in the spring, is being considered for either the Grade 1 Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park Nov. 23 or the Gradeo3 River City Handicap at Churchill Downs the same day, said trainer Niall O'Callaghan.

O'Callaghan said Ascertain was the first horse to win a stakes race after training over the Pro-Ride synthetic surface at Skylight Training Center. Skylight, located just outside Louisville, is O'Callaghan's training base, and it also houses horses for trainers Carl Nafzger, Ian Wilkes, Tom Drury, and Donnie Grego. The Pro-Ride surface has been in place since late August.

* Rapid Proof, a multiple stakes winner and earner of $506,338, has been retired due to an ankle injury, trainer Lon Wiggins said Tuesday. The 7-year-old gelding won of the Hopemont and John B. Connally Breeders' Cup for owner-breeder Dolphus Morrison. "We're going to try to find a good home for him," Wiggins said.