BRADLEY GRASPS OPPORTUNITY, EARNS TRAINER OF MONTH AWARD

by Mike Henry

For the Zerillo’s Italian Grill Trainer of the Month, William “Buff” Bradley, the unpredictable nature of Thoroughbred racing is one of the sport’s biggest attractions.

In May of 2001, Bradley and his father, former fighter pilot and Kentucky state senator Fred Bradley, delivered a son of 1989 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Prized out of Brassy on the family’s Indian Ridge Farm in Frankfort, Ky.

That offspring, Brass Hat, went on to a remarkable career, winning the Ohio Derby and Indiana Derby, the Grade I Donn Handicap at Gulfstream as a 5-year-old and numerous other stakes while amassing career earnings of more than $2.1 million. He was retired after his 9-year-old season and is scheduled to compete in his first horse show next month with Bradley’s 12-year-old daughter, Jett, at the Kentucky Horse Park.

The Bradley father-and-son team was again on the floor of the foaling barn in April of 2008 when their mare Deputy Doll delivered a striking chestnut filly by Bowman’s Band. Over the course of her career, Groupie Doll developed into one of the most popular horses in the country, winning back-to-back editions of the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in 2012 and 2013.

Groupie Doll was honored with an Eclipse Award both years as Champion Female Sprinter. The Bradleys and their partners sold her to Mandy Pope for $3.1 million after her second Breeders’ Cup victory; she has a yearling colt by Tapit and a weanling filly by Tapit.

Sure, Brass Hat and Groupie Doll come from quality stock, but who could have forecast either would be among the best of their generation? “With Brass Hat, we always thought he was a once-in-a-lifetime horse. Then Groupie Doll came along. Those are the kind of horses that give you a reason to get up and go to work every day,” Buff Bradley said.

“You never know when you’re going to have another one like that in your barn.”

The next candidate for stardom in the Bradley barn is the 4-year-old colt Divisidero, a son of Kitten’s Joy-Madame Du Lac owned by Gunpowder Farms. The winner of the Grade II American Turf Stakes last May at Churchill Downs finished second in the Grade III Appleton Stakes at Gulfstream on April 2 and is being pointed toward the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill on May 7.

“He showed last year that he is a special horse, and I absolutely think he belongs with the top (turf) horses,” Bradley said.

Bradley, who has sent out seven winners here since March 19, including the 6-year-old mare Love My Life in today’s seventh race, finds Tampa Bay Downs an ideal venue for gauging and developing his younger horses, most of which will compete at Churchill Downs after the conclusion of the current meeting.

“Tampa offers all kinds of different races, which lets us find out where our young horses fit in terms of class, what surface they like and whether they want to race short or long,” Bradley said. “”The biggest thing is I’m able to put them in the right spots because there are a lot of different opportunities.

“We always talk every year about how much we like Tampa because the (main dirt track) and the turf course are very good, and our young horses are able to mature well there,” he added.

Bradley spends much of his time in Kentucky, entrusting the daily operations at Tampa Bay Downs to assistants Maria Kabel and Chelsey Moysey (Kabel has since returned to Kentucky, where she is working with Brass Hat and Jett).

“Maria has been with me for 15 years, and she has mentored Chelsey the past couple of seasons. They know how we want to do things and if there is a problem, they know how to handle the situation and make sure they are doing the best thing for the horse,” Bradley said.

“They have become a very good team and are a big part of our success. I leave the majority of the decisions up to them, and when a horse needs something different in its training, they communicate that to me and get my input.”

Bradley’s recent climb up the standings puts him in eighth place with 14 victories from 87 starters.

Bradley and his wife Kim have two other children: daughter Kory, 21, a junior at Eastern Kentucky University, and son Drew, 17. Kim runs the 250-acre Indian Ridge Farm with farm manager Kelly Schrader; the Bradleys keep 40-50 horses on the farm and anywhere from 30-40 at the racetrack.

Fred Bradley is 85 and in declining health, but he remains excited about the future prospects of the Bradley Racing Stable. “His love has always been the horses,” his son said. “Whenever I see him, he says ‘I need another good horse.’ ”

Down the stretch. Today’s fourth race on the turf produced the biggest win mutuel payoff of the meeting when 4-year-old Florida-bred gelding Dreams d’Argent rallied from slightly off the pace for a ¾-length victory from Honor Earned in the 1-mile maiden claiming event.

Dreams d’Argent, which entered the race with a second and a third from 11 previous starts, paid $155.60. He was ridden by Whitney Valls. Lori Smock bred and trains the winner, which is owned by Robert Webb.

Ronnie Allen, Jr., rode two winners today. He captured the sixth race on the turf on 3-year-old colt Rapo for breeder-owner John M. Baker and trainer Tom Proctor. Rapo was claimed from the race for $16,000 by trainer Aldana Gonzalez for new owner Bruno Schickedanz.

Allen added the ninth race aboard 6-year-old Florida-bred gelding Pay Any Price for owner Frank Carl Calabrese and trainer Alnaz Ali.

Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Friday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:42 p.m. The track is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.