Brass Hat returns to dirt in Cornhusker
BRASS HAT (Prized), whose dirt career peaked more than four years ago when he took the 2006 Donn H. (G1), will attempt to rekindle some of that old magic in Saturday night's $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker H. (G2). The 1 1/8-mile contest for older horses highlights a nine-race card that also includes a pair of Grade 3 events for three-year-olds.
The Cornhusker will mark Brass Hat's first race on dirt since a distant fifth-place effort behind dual Horse of the Year Curlin in the 2008 Stephen Foster H. (G1). Becoming less effective against top company on the main track, trainer "Buff" Bradley ultimately moved the nine-year-old gelding to the turf where he's achieved a bit more success in recent years. In addition to capturing the 2009 Louisville H. (G3), Brass Hat has placed in the United Nations S. (G1), Sword Dancer Invitational (G1), two editions of the Elkhorn S. (G2) and the Stars and Stripes Turf H. (G3). He was most recently third when defending his title in the May 22 Louisville.
If cutting back from marathon distances and returning to dirt proves too much to ask of the old warrior, eight others will be waiting in the wings to pounce. Arguably the most capable with his best race is the Bob Baffert-trained MYTHICAL POWER (Congaree), who will attempt to rebound from a puzzling defeat in the Lone Star Park H. (G3). The four-year-old had won over the Texas strip on two previous occasions, in the Texas Mile (G3) and Lone Star Derby (G3), but threw in the towel in the final three furlongs and trailed the field of eight at odds of 8-5.
There is no shortage of speed available to set up a run by Mythical Power from midpack. Most of it should be provided by KING DAN (Include) and Prairie ace SHADOWBDANCING (Montbrook), who's compiled a 7-3-2-2 mark in Iowa and was runner-up in last season's Cornhusker. Another with early foot is RACING BRAN (Awesome Again), winner of the Essex H. and Milwaukee Avenue H. during the spring.
SLEW'S TIZZY (Tiznow), also a former winner of the Lone Star Derby, has tended to show more fondness for synthetics. His biggest win occurred in the 2007 Lexington S. (G2) over the Keeneland Polytrack, and he'll attempt to win the Cornhusker off a layoff that stretches back to December 2008, when he captured the Native Diver H. (G3) on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track. The best of the rest is RED LEAD (Red Bullet), a three-time stakes winner this year including the May 29 Jim Rasmussen Memorial S., the local prep for the Cornhusker.
WINSLOW HOMER (Unbridled's Song), whose Kentucky Derby (G1) aspirations were cut short due to injury following a win in the January 23 Holy Bull S. (G3) at Gulfstream, gets back to work in the $250,000 Iowa Derby (G3) over 1 1/16 miles. The once-beaten Tony Dutrow charge has been working swiftly at Delaware Park in recent weeks and will be guided by regular pilot Ramon Dominguez.
THISKYHASNOLIMIT (Sky Mesa), whose career highlights included wins in the Iroquois S. (G3) and Matt Winn S. at Churchill, matches up well with the likely favorite, though the Baffert-trained CONCORD POINT (Tapit), runner-up in the Lazaro Barrera Memorial S. (G3) most recently, also figures tough if he takes to the dirt at first asking. Others of note in the six-pack are Prairie Mile S. winner FORESTRY TYPE (Forestry) and VOW TO WAGER (Broken Vow), third in the Northern Dancer S. (G3) two weeks ago.
Seven three-year-old fillies will do battle in the $200,000 Iowa Oaks (G3), a 1 1/16-mile heat that kicks off Saturday's stakes action. Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) winner QUIET TEMPER (Quiet American) should appreciate the step down in class following an eighth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and a fourth in the Acorn S. (G1), but is far from a standout.
SEEKING THE TITLE (Seeking the Gold), a close third to Quiet Temper at Fair Grounds, is due for better luck after losing jockey Kent Desormeaux during the running of the Black-Eyed Susan S. (G2) and enduring a bad trip in the Acorn. Another Black-Eyed Susan also-ran, HARISSA (Afleet Alex) was a smart winner of the Sunland Park Oaks two back.
ALL DUE RESPECT (Value Plus), the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) runner-up, might go favored off a ridiculously easy allowance win at Hollywood Park, but the jury is still out whether the Kathy Walsh pupil is more effective on synthetic surfaces. The once-beaten Panthers S. heroine REMIT (Tapit), dual Grade 3-placed TAP TAP TAPPING (Tapit), and Dixie Belle S. vixen SHOTGUN GULCH (Thunder Gulch) round out the field.
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