12/26/2001 12:00AM

Stakes victory is a Bradley family affair

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Fred Bradley has been involved in racing for so long that his family has a photograph of him in the winner's circle at the old Dade Park in 1938.

Last Saturday, Bradley, a Thoroughbred owner since the late 1960's, got his first stakes win when Timeless Love held on for a narrow victory in the Gowell Stakes at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.

"That was a great Christmas present for all of us," said William "Buff" Bradley, who trains Timeless Love for his father. The Gowell was his first stakes victory as a trainer.

Racing long has been a passion for the Bradley family. Buff, whose nickname stems from being called Buffalo Bill when he was an infant, began breaking yearlings on his dad's Indian Ridge Farm in Frankfort, Ky., when he was 12.

Based at Turfway with 12 active horses, Bradley, 38, still commutes daily from Indian Ridge, where he and his wife, Kim, live with their two children. Kim is the daughter of trainer Gary Thomas. Bradley, a college graduate, worked on the racetrack for the late Clarence Picou for several years before going out on his own in 1993.

Fred Bradley, an attorney who lives in Gulf Shores, Ala., was back in Kentucky for the holidays and was at Turfway to witness the Gowell. Timeless Love, a $22,000 yearling purchase, drew off in midstretch and barely held on to win at 29-1.

"We thought she won, but as we got down toward the winner's circle, it was like, 'I don't know,'" said Buff Bradley. "It was quite a thrill when they put our number up. The best thing was winning for my dad because of how long he's had to wait. And I know he was glad for me, too."

Bradley said Timeless Love probably will race again next month before getting some time off.

Lopez leads exodus

Jimmy Lopez, who will win the first riding title of his career at the holiday meet, is scheduled to ride here through Jan. 16 before going on a brief honeymoon with his wife, Kelly. The couple then will move to Hot Springs, Ark., for the Oaklawn Park meet.

Among the other Turfway riders who are scheduled to move to Oaklawn this winter are Justin Vitek, Greta Kuntzweiler, and Joe Johnson.

Most observers expect the void to be filled by apprentice Kris Prather, who is scheduled to return to action Monday.

Sprinters get last chance

The last stakes of the holiday meet comes Saturday with the $50,000 Holiday Cheer Stakes for older horses. Among the probables for the six-furlong race are Bet Me Best, Dancing Missile, Jimie Son, Little Lee, Personal First, Sense of Duty, and Willowbrook Lane.

Bet on Sunshine, a three-time winner of the Holiday Cheer, was not nominated. The 9-year-old gelding is on a brief hiatus in Ocala, Fla., after ending his 2001 campaign with an easy victory in the first two-turn attempt of his career, on closing day at the Churchill Downs meet. He will race again at 10.

Schedule changes

With Turfway racing afternoons during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, the normal schedule will resume Friday, Jan. 4, with post time of 5:30 p.m. Racing will be conducted here Monday and Tuesday because of the New Year's holiday, and the dark days next week are Wednesday and Thursday.

Monday marks the end of the holiday meet, and Tuesday begins the long winter-spring meet. The highlight of the three-month-plus meet is the March 23 Lane's End Spiral Stakes.