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Multiple Grade I winner Palace Malice retired; will stand at Three Chimneys

Multiple Grade I winner Palace Malice has been retired from racing and will stand stud at Three Chimneys Farm for the 2016 season, Dogwood Stable and Three Chimneys  announced in a release on Thursday.

Palace Malice had been plagued by a series of physical setbacks this season in his attempt to return from bone bruising that was discovered following his sixth place finish in the 2014 Grade I Whitney last August. The 5-year-old son of Curlin only managed two starts this year, running third in the Diablo Stakes at Belmont Park on May 10 and fourth in the Alydar Stakes at Saratoga on August 9.

“It is with great disappointment that we announce the retirement of Palace Malice,” said Dogwood Stable’s President Cot Campbell. “He is the horse of a lifetime who has brought our partners exciting memories that will live on forever. After getting a clean bill of health in November subsequent to an uncharacteristic performance in the Whitney last year, I owed it to my partners and the fans to give it our best shot to see if we could bring the mighty son of Curlin back in 2015.

“Despite our sporting effort, it was not meant to be.”

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Palace Malice was one of the most versatile runners of his generation. The bay horse rebounded from a 12th place finish in the 2013 Kentucky Derby to capture that year’s Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown, as well as the Grade II Jim Dandy Stakes.

When Palace Malice returned for his 4-year-old season, he rattled off four consecutive victories en route to establishing himself as one of the nation’s leading handicap horses. He opened his campaign with wins in the Grade II Gulfstream Park Handicap, Grade II New Orleans Handicap and Grade III Westchester Stakes before earning arguably his most impressive career win in the 2014 Grade I Met Mile.

In the Met Mile, Palace Malice overcame having to break from the undesirable No.1 post position and gamely fought past eventual two-time Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents to win by a length.

“Palace Malice was all class from day one. He was one of those rare horses whose raw speed allowed him to dominate his division as a miler yet whose stamina had  him winning the Belmont against the best of his generation,” Pletcher said. “He was the most versatile horse I have ever trained, and one of the best. You don’t see such a talented, multi-dimensional horse like this very often. To win the Belmont one year and come back the next year and win the Met Mile in 1:33 2/5 …it’s an unbelievable accomplishment, and indicative of his exceptional talent.”

Bred by William S. Farish, Palace Malice retires with seven wins from 19 starts and $2,691,135. A stud fee for 2016 has yet to be announced but Palace Malice will be available for inspection at Three Chimneys throughout the upcoming Keeneland September yearling sale.

“Palace Malice is a valuable addition to the strengthening roster at Three Chimneys, as he possesses a superb physical to go along with an amazing body of work as a racehorse,” said Doug Cauthen, Vice Chair of the Three Chimneys’ Board. “John Malone’s Bridlewood Farm will be a cornerstone partner in the horse, and we anticipate that a coalition of shareholder partners will be added over the next month to ensure this extraordinary horse’s chances to succeed at stud.”


Breeders’ Cup announces public transportation plan for Keeneland Breeders’ Cup

Edited release:

Breeders’ Cup and Keeneland have announced public transportation service plans for the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will offer shuttle service from three Park-and-Ride locations in the Lexington area to and from Keeneland Race Course on October 30 and 31.

Breeders’ Cup and Keeneland have established public shuttle service from the following Park-and-Ride locations: Rupp Arena in downtown Lexington, Whitaker Bank Ballpark, and the Kentucky Horse Park. In addition, the Kentucky Horse Park and Rupp Arena will offer Park-and-Ride service for Keeneland’s “Prelude to the Cup” race card on Thursday, October 29. For more information on Prelude to the Cup tickets and parking, click here.

Parking passes for the three locations are available for purchase now on the Breeders’ Cup Parking & Transportation page and are subject to availability. Limited options will be available for day-of purchases.

The key details are as follows:

  • Parking at Keeneland will be limited to those with official pre-paid parking credentials. Vehicles arriving at Keeneland without an official onsite parking credential will be redirected to a Park-and-Ride location.


  • Park-and-Ride tickets purchased in advance online will be $20.00 per car each day at all three locations for parking on October 30 and 31. All park-and-ride parking passes will be available as a print-at-home pass, with a unique barcode. All patrons can either print out the passes and show them at the lots upon entry or can also show the passes from a smartphone. Park-and-Ride passes will not be mailed. All Park-and-Ride parking passes will be emailed to the user in an immediate email confirmation.


  • In addition, patrons may pay a $25.00 fee for event day “drive in” purchase only at the Kentucky Horse Park. There will be no event-day parking purchase availability at Rupp Arena or at Whitaker Bank Ballpark; only pre-paid online purchases will be accepted.


  • Breeders’ Cup ticketholders without cars may also purchase a day of “walkup”, $5 shuttle ticket at Rupp Arena on Friday and Saturday.


  • All Park-and-Ride passes include courtesy shuttles to/from Keeneland and complimentary Breeders’ Cup World Championships track programs for each person.


“The Park-and-Ride locations will provide Breeders’ Cup ticketholders with smooth and convenient transportation to and from Keeneland for the Championships,” said Bob Elliston, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Breeders’ Cup Limited. “We greatly appreciate our association with Rupp Arena, Whitaker Bank Ballpark and the Kentucky Horse Park as official parking locations, and with local Lexington transportation authorities for their cooperation and assistance in the Park-and-Ride program.”


The following venues have been identified as official Park-and-Ride locations for the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships:


Park-and-Ride Options


Breeders’ Cup World Championships

Friday, October 30 and Saturday, October 31


  1. Kentucky Horse Park

–      ADA Handicap accessible lot

–      Pre-purchase parking passes available online

–      Day-of event parking passes available onsite


  1. Rupp Arena

–      Must pre-purchase parking passes online

–      Walk-up shuttle only passes available onsite


  1. Whitaker Bank Ballpark

–      Must pre-purchase parking passes online

Prelude to the Cup

Thursday, October 29


  1. Kentucky Horse Park

–      ADA Handicap accessible lot

–      Pre-purchase parking passes available online

–      Day-of event parking passes available onsite


  1. Rupp Arena

–      Must pre-purchase parking passes online

–      Walk-up shuttle only passes available onsite


Breeders’ Cup Week Racing Schedule at Keeneland

Shuttles will run continuously each day departing approximately every 15 minutes.

Thursday, October 29: Prelude to the Cup

  • Public shuttles will begin at 10:30am; Last public shuttle will be at 6:30pm
  • Gates open at Keeneland at 11:00am; 1st Post is 12:30pm; Last Post is 4:57pm

Friday, October 30: Breeders’ Cup World Championships

  • Shuttles will begin at 9:30am; Last shuttle will be at 7:00pm
  • Gates open at Keeneland at 10:00am; 1st Post is 12:30pm; Last Post is 6:10pm

Saturday, October 31: Breeders’ Cup World Championships

  • Shuttles will begin at 8:30am; Last shuttle will be at 7:00pm
  • Gates open at Keeneland at 9:00am; 1st Post is 11:00am; Last Post is 6:15pm

Zayat Stables pledges percentage of American Pharoah’s earnings to New Vocations

Edited release:

New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program announced Tuesday that Zayat Stables, owner and breeder of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, has committed to donating a percentage of the champion colt’s purse earnings for the remainder of his racing career to support the program’s mission to rehab, retrain and rehome retired racehorses.

Zayat Stables retires horses to New Vocations each year and is an ongoing supporter of the annual Breeders’ Cup pledge, where owners and trainers opt to pledge a percentage of their Championship earnings to the aftercare program.  This year, Zayat Stables is taking it a step further by pledging a percentage of American Pharoah’s earnings leading up to and including the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.

American Pharoah is slated to contest Saturday’s Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga, which will have a $1.6 million purse contingent on the son of Pioneerof the Nile starting in the race.

“We feel owning a horse is a lifelong responsibility, which is why we are happy to support New Vocations’ aftercare efforts. We are firmly committed to the care of our horses from the moment they are born, while they are on the track and once they retire,” said owner Ahmed Zayat.

“We are very thankful and honored to be the recipient of the Zayat Stable’s generous pledge,” said Anna Ford, New Vocation’s Program Director. “The Zayat’s truly care about their horses beyond the track and we are forever grateful for their ongoing support of our program.  We hope their kind gesture will encourage other owners to do the same, as we rely heavily on donations to continue to take in hundreds of retired racehorses each year and ensure their successful second careers.”

New Vocations first opened their barn doors in 1992 to retired racehorses looking for new careers. Starting with a single farm in Dayton, Ohio, the program has grown to six facilities in Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Serving over 40 racetracks, New Vocations works directly with owners and trainers in need of an aftercare program for horses leaving the track. Currently, the program leads the nation in racehorse adoptions, taking in over 450 horses each year. The program has a sound adoption system in place that is proven to move a large number of horses in a rather short period of time. Their focus is on adoption

Tickets on sale for Keeneland’s ‘Prelude to the Cup’ day

Edited release:

Keeneland will celebrate its first time to host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Oct. 30-31, with a special day of racing titled Prelude to the Cup to be held Thursday, Oct. 29. Individual ticket reservations for Prelude to the Cup will go on sale beginning Tuesday via

All seating and dining for Prelude to the Cup will be sold in advance. General Admission tickets, which do not include a seat, are $5 and will be available for purchase at Keeneland on Prelude Day. Children 12 and under will receive free General Admission with a paid adult.

Keeneland has carded nine races for Prelude to the Cup highlighted by the $100,000 Lafayette  for 3-year-olds and older at seven furlongs on the main track. Gates open at 11 a.m. ET; post time for the first race is 12:30 p.m.

“Prelude to the Cup will be an unforgettable day of racing at Keeneland on the eve of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “The look and feel of the entire Keeneland campus will convey the excitement of Breeders’ Cup and will offer our guests an opportunity to view world-class racing in a unique setting. This is truly a memorable time in the history of this great race track.”


Keeneland will offer guests a variety of seating and dining accommodations for Prelude to the Cup, ranging from established fan favorites to distinctive new venues.


Fans can experience a number of facilities constructed just for Breeders’ Cup that afford once-in-a-lifetime views of the action. Among these exceptional options are:


  • Clubhouse Lawn Chalet: Located along the Clubhouse turn, this dining chalet offers stunning views of the race track.


  •   Saddling Paddock Chalet: This dining chalet provides premium views of the horses as they circle the Saddling Paddock before making their way to the track.


  • Grandstand Loge Boxes: These open-air boxes between the sixteenth pole and just past the finish line are elevated from the first floor Grandstand to offer commanding views of live racing.


As a new feature for Prelude to the Cup, Keeneland will offer table dining on the second-floor Grandstand, with views of the Saddling Paddock and Walking Ring.


Additionally, dining reservations are being taken for the Lexington/Kentucky Room, which features panoramic views of the race track; the Phoenix Room, which overlooks the Saddling Paddock and Walking Ring, and the trackside Equestrian Room. Grandstand reserved seats also will be sold.


Due to great demand, parking at Keeneland will be limited to those with official pre-paid parking credentials. Vehicles arriving at Keeneland without an official on-site parking credential will not be permitted onto Keeneland’s grounds and will be directed to a park-and-ride location. For more information please visit


New Vocations to host pair of Kentucky events

Edited release:

New Vocations will be hosting two Kentucky events in September: a Thoroughbred-only charity horse show on Saturday, Sept. 12 and an open hunter pace on Sunday, Sept. 20. Proceeds from both events will go to support the program’s efforts to rehab, retrain and rehome retired racehorses.

Held in conjunction with The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program, the one-day New Vocations Charity Thoroughbred Show will offer newly retired racehorses, as well as seasoned show horses, a chance to compete at the historical Kentucky Horse Park in both the Rolex Stadium and the Walnut Ring. Junior/Amateur and Open Hunter Derbies and Jumper Stakes classes will be offered, as well as multiple over-fences, flat and pleasure classes. Additional Thoroughbred awards will be offered, and a special Thoroughbred recognition ceremony will take place in the Rolex Stadium.

The second annual New Vocations Hunter Pace will take place on Sunday, Sept. 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Scheffelridge Farm in Paris, Kentucky. The event will be ridden over 100 Bluegrass acres on a course simulating hunting terrain in teams of two to four riders.

With jumping, non-jumping, and family/pleasure divisions of between two and four riders, there’s something for everyone, no matter their discipline or experience level of horse and rider. Riders that don’t have a team can be assigned one. Teams finishing closest to the optimal time (without going over) will win great prizes and ribbons to sixth place will be awarded. Jumps can be jumped at any height (6”, 2’, 2’3” or 2’7”) or not at all. Also available on this fun-filled day is toddy stops sponsored by Buffalo Trace and a Poker Pace. The team with the best “hand” of poker at the finish will win a prize.

New for this year are awards for Best Tailgate, Best Costume, Best Barn Representation and Best Turned Out. Thoroughbred-only awards will include Best Thoroughbred Team, Oldest Thoroughbred, Youngest Thoroughbred, Most Recently Raced and Most Money Earned. Tailgating is encouraged and an awards presentation will take place at 4 p.m.

For more information on either of these great events, please visit and click on the “Events” tab.

New Vocations first opened their barn doors in 1992 to retired racehorses looking for new careers. Starting with a single farm in Dayton, Ohio, the program has grown to six facilities in Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Currently, the program leads the nation in racehorse adoptions, taking in over 450 horses each year.

Champion Beholder deemed morning-line pick for Pacific Classic

The sporting world always gets wound up for an old fashioned battle of the sexes. Because no matter how often it occurs, there is undeniable intrigue that comes with seeing a female athlete at the top of her game matching skills with male counterparts.

Should champion mare Beholder become the first distaffer to defeat males when the 25th running of the Grade I, $1 million Pacific Classic is contested this Saturday at Del Mar, it would be a remarkable milestone on what is already a Hall of Fame worthy resume.

While that’s all well and good with regards to Beholder’s legacy, that factor alone was not what swayed her connections into taking on such a task. When trainer Richard Mandella, jockey Gary Stevens and owner B. Wayne Hughes evaluated what was before them, they simply saw a horse doing as good as ever in a career of sustained excellence who deserved a chance to exert their skills beyond the confines of their division.

Already regarded as the top female runner in the country, the chance has come for Spendthrift Farm’s Beholder to officially crown herself one of the best older horses in training, period. In a field that features reigning Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern and Grade I winners Hoppertunity and Hard Aces, it is the two-time Breeders’ Cup heroine and two-time Eclipse Award winner bringing the most heat to the table as Beholder was installed as the 5-to-2 morning line favorite out of post nine in a field of 10 for the 1 1/4-miles Pacific Classic.

The decision to take on males for the first time with the 5-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes was one Beholder herself had the most say in. Her seven-length victory in the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch  at  Del Mar on August 1 – the 13th career win and seventh Grade I triumph of her career – left her Hall of Fame jockey working harder to find adequate words in the aftermath than he did while in the saddle.

Where once her temperament quirks tested Mandella’s Hall of Fame horsemanship, Beholder is now a grown lady who, frankly, owes nothing to anyone in terms of her accomplishments.

Hence, her connections felt they owed it to her to get out of a comfort zone she has already mastered.

“I think the filly vs. colts thing gets maybe a little overdone here because it’s not done quite as much in this country. But I think it’s probably less about that and more about she’s doing so well  and it’s a good race with a good purse and the timing seems right,” said Ned Toffey, general manager of Hughes’s Spendthrift Farm. “And it probably doesn’t detract from her that much if she doesn’t run a big race. She’s gotten so much better mentally, not that she was ever bad mentally, but she’s so professional now and she’s become really push button.”

Added Mandella, “I don’t often do it, but I don’t often get one as good as Beholder. I think she deserves a chance to step up. I think when you come to a point when you’re winning in your own class so much, you probably ought to try something different.”

The notion of a setback being a blessing in disguise is often an attempt by sufferers to soothe themselves. In the case of how Beholder’s 2014 campaign ended, there is a genuinely grateful tone to how it played out.

Last October, Beholder had to miss her attempt at winning the Breeders’ Cup Distaff for a second straight time and a Breeders’ Cup race for a third consecutive year when she spiked a fever less than two weeks out from the event. Her illness also prevented her from shipping to Kentucky where she was slated to be sold at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton November sale.

At the time, it was a frustrating end to a campaign that also saw the bay mare sidelined for much of the summer after suffering a gash in her left hind pastern while running fourth in the Grade I Ogden Phipps last June. Seeing her comeback to take the Santa Lucia Stakes in her seasonal bow this April 10 and the Grade III Adoration Stakes on June 13 prior to her Clement L. Hirsch win has allowed her people a bonus chance to soak in a most special individual.

“Last year was sort of anticlimactic,” said Toffey, who added the current plan is to offer Beholder at auction following the Breeders’ Cup this year.  “She had some bad luck on timing issues. But Richard has always taken such good care of her and that we felt like that this is a filly that still had plenty of good racing still left in her.

“They don’t come around like her very often and so we basically wanted a do-over. I think this year… we’ve been able to sit back and take her in and just say ‘Wow’.
Beholder has never tried the Pacific Classic’s 10-furlong distance and she will likely have Bayern pressing the issue on the front end. While she doesn’t have the most stamina laden pedigree, the way she has drawn off going 1 1/8-miles suggest she could overcome what her bloodlines say is an issue.

More than one pundit has suggested Beholder might be among the few who could seriously challenge Triple Crown winner American Pharoah should they ever meet. While the Breeders’ Cup Distaff is the main target, Toffey said he would “not say no” to considering the $5 million Classic pending Saturday’s outcome.

“When I won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on her two years ago, I said I’d never felt the power and had the confidence I had in that race except for maybe one or two colts,” Stevens said. “She (Beholder) was just dominant. I felt that had she run against the colts in the Classic that day, she could have won it.

“She’s a sweetheart in the stall, but when she steps on the track she becomes a man. I go along for the ride.”

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676.  Blog: Twitter: @horseracinghl.

Keeneland to offer Breeders’ Cup tours to fans

Edited release:

Keeneland will celebrate hosting the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s 13-race, $26 million championship event on Oct. 30-31, by offering hour-long, guided tours that will give fans an insider’s look at the rich connection between Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup. Tours will begin Saturday, Aug. 22.

Breeders’ Cup Tours will be available at 8:30 a.m. ET on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Each tour group is limited to 30 people, who will receive souvenir lapel pins. The cost is $8 per person; children 12 and under are free.

“The Official Breeders’ Cup Tour will weave the history and importance of the Breeders’ Cup with that of Keeneland and Central Kentucky; all three play a significant role globally in Thoroughbred racing and breeding,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “This year marks the first time Keeneland is hosting the Breeders’ Cup, a homecoming for Thoroughbreds born and raised in Central Kentucky, many of whom were sold at a Keeneland auction, have run here and will return here to compete.”

The walking tour includes stops at Keeneland’s Paddock, Grandstand and Winner’s Circle, where guests will learn how each location will be used for the Breeders’ Cup and see all the preparations for the event. They will watch a short video about the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland, have photos taken in the Winner’s Circle with a replica of the Breeders’ Cup trophy and see horses train on the main track.

On weekdays, visitors are encouraged to visit the Keeneland Library to see additional Breeders’ Cup memorabilia, including original works by the internationally celebrated artist “Peb” (Pierre Bellocq) and photographs of prominent Breeders’ Cup races and horses.

Tickets may be purchased in advance at or at Keeneland’s Ticket Office located near the Clubhouse and Grandstand South entrances on tour days starting at 8 a.m.

Tours will continue Oct. 2-14 during Keeneland’s Fall Meet and Oct. 25-28 during Breeders’ Cup Week. The schedule of those tours will be announced.

American Pharoah smooth as ever in four furlong breeze

Edited release:
Triple Crown champion American Pharoah worked a half-mile in :47.60 under rider Martin Garcia Sunday morning at Del Mar with an estimated 800 people looking on from the grandstand.
Trainer Bob Baffert and owner Ahmed Zayat and his family also monitored the work from the grandstand and came away pleased.
“He went nice; like he always does,” Baffert said. “I think this empty track today (Del Mar closed the track for training between 7:45 and 7:55 to all except Pacific Classic horses and Triple Crown winners) allowed him to relax some. When he’s got horses all around him, he gets keyed up.”
American Pharoah came onto the track at approximately 7:45 with Baffert assistant Jim Barnes alongside on his stable pony. They backtracked to the finish line, then jogged to just past the six-furlong pole. American Pharoah galloped up to the half mile marker, then went into work mode, coming down the stretch to applause and cheers from the crowd.
Official split times from the clockers were: 12.40, :24.60, :35.80, and :59.80  and 1:13.60 for six furlongs on the gallop out.
“It went super good,” Garcia said back at the stable area. “Bob just told me to work him like we usually do and make sure we get a little bit out of it. He was just cruising. It’s like he’s still getting better and better. This horse is unbelievable.”
Head clocker John Malone noted the horse was well within himself for the move. American Pharoah’s work was categorized as “breezing” (without urging), a sparingly-used designation by Southern California circuit clockers.
“I think he’s doing fine,” Baffert said.  “I’m always checking with his riders – George (Alvarez), Manny (Avila) who gets on him on his (George’s) day off, Martin (Garcia) and asking if they feel anything different; asking if he’s done anything that is a change. But all the reports are good. Everything they’ve said so far has been positive. Actually, it’s amazing how this horse has held his form for so long.”
Baffert reflected briefly on the overall American Pharoah experience.
“The ride (with the horse) has been good, but I can feel the pressure,” Baffert said.  “I’ve got a lot of responsibility with him – to the racing industry, to everyone. I’ve got to make sure he’s 100%. I’ve got to focus on the horse from here on out, make sure everything is right for him.
“Today (in his work) he looked like the ‘Pharoah’ we know. His ears were up and forward, he was looking around checking things out; doing it easy. It’s what we want to see.
“I’ll work him again next week. We’ll see when. Then we’ll probably know what we’re going to do next.”
The most likely next start for American Pharoah would be the Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday, August 29. The $1 million Pacific Classic, the signature event of the Del Mar summer meeting, is next Saturday, August 22. Baffert was asked about the possibility of parading American Pharoah for the crowd on Pacific Classic Day.
“If I was sure that we weren’t going to the Travers, then it would be a no-brainer,” Baffert said. “But when you put them in front of a crowd it can take something out of them. I’m just not sure about that yet.”


Grade I winner Big Blue Kitten to stand at Calumet

Calumet Farm announced Thursday that three-time Grade I winner Big Blue Kitten, the morning-line favorite for Saturday’s Grade I Arlington Million, will take up stud duty at the end of his racing career alongside fellow Ramsey Farm homebred and Grade I winner  Real Solution.

Big Blue Kitten was initially slated to be retired to Ramsey Farm for 2015 but after consulting with trainer Chad Brown, owner/breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey opted to leave the ridgling son of Kitten’s Joy in training for his 7-year-old season.  In three starts this year, the bay horse has two wins including his most recent triumph in the Grade I United Nations Stakes over the Monmouth Park turf on July 5.


Big Blue Kitten has amassed career earnings of $2,090,830, winning or placing in 14 graded Stakes races, including the 2013 edition of Grade I Sword Dancer Stakes and the United Nations twice (2013, 2015).

“Calumet has a healthy appreciation for Kitten’s Joy, whom we consider to be one of the preeminent young stallions in the world today”, said farm manager Eddie Kane. ” Kitten’s Joy’s dominant genetic superiority has kept him atop the leading sire list since his third crop of runners. He sired an unprecedented 25 stakes winners last year and was number one on the General Sire list the year before, with 24 stakes winners. He throws precocious quality runners that stay sound as mature horses. This is a sire line we believe will significantly contribute to Calumet’s legacy.”

Legendary horseman John Nerud dies at age 102

John Nerud, Hall of Fame trainer and one of the most influential horsemen ever to grace Thoroughbred racing, died Thursday morning in New York at the age of 102.
Nerud’s impact on the sport has proven as enduring and far reaching as any individual in modern times. Born in Minatare, Nebraska, Nerud rose from the ranks of ranch hand to rodeo cowboy, to jockey, to jockey’s agent, to Hall of Fame trainer, to co-founder of the Breeders’ Cup, to influential breeder who built a breeding and racing dynasty with William McKnight of the 3M company, who at the time was one of the richest men in America.
Inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1972, Nerud is credited with saddling more than 1,000 winners, including 27 stakes winners before retiring from training in 1978.  Nerud’s list of champions include Delegate, Intentionally, Ta Wee, and Dr. Patches but by far his greatest conditioning success was in the development of champion and Hall of Famer Dr. Fager, whom Red Smith of the New York Times described as “the fasted horse in the world”.
Nerud had sustained a near-fatal head injury after being thrown from his lead pony on the racetrack. Famed neurosurgeon Charles Fager of the Leahy Clinic in Boston saved his life and became forever immortalized by the horse who bore his name. In 1968, Dr. Fager did what no horse had ever done nor will likely ever do again, which was to win four championship titles, including Horse-of-the-Year, champion handicap horse, champion sprinter and champion grass horse.
The first and only time Nerud ran a horse in the Kentucky Derby was for Texas oilman, Ralph Lowe. In one of the most memorable Derby’s in history, his charge, Gallant Man, was en route to clear victory when Iron Liege surpassed him in the final strides because Gallant Man’s jockey, Willie Shoemaker stood up in his irons before the wire. Ironically, Shoemaker had told Lowe at dinner the night before the Derby that he had a dream where he stood up in the irons and lost the race. Gallant Man would go on to win the 1957 Belmont Stakes by eight lengths establishing an American record which stood until the mighty Secretariat bested it in the 1973 Belmont Stakes.
In 1957,  Nerud and McKnight founded what would become a lasting and influential legacy to breeding and racing​ for Tartan. Though he did not breed his first horse until after the age of 50, Nerud established his own branch in the stud book, which includes the likes of Kentucky Derby Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Unbridled, Metropolitan Handicap winner Fappiano, Breeders’ Cup Turf Mile winner Cozzene, and In Reality, among many others.
Nerud’s post-training achievements also included working closely with Breeders’ Cup founder John Gaines in developing a World Championship day for racing and serving as chairman of the Breeders’ Cup marketing committee for the first 10 years of its existence. Following his career at Tartan Farms, Nerud went on to breed 1985 Champion Turf Horse Cozzene, winner of the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Mile, who was trained by his son, Jan.


“Over the long history of Thoroughbred racing in America, few individuals made as indelible an impact on our sport as John Nerud did over many decades,” Breeders’ Cup president and CEO Craig Fravel said in a statement. “In addition to the many great horses that he trained, owned and bred, and the advice and counsel he provided to grow the sport, Mr. Nerud made an enormous contribution to the formation of the Breeders’ Cup. Working closely with John Gaines and the initial founders, Mr. Nerud combined acute judgement, incredible boldness and powers of persuasion to help create a unique international championship event for horse racing. His interest and participation as a Member of the Breeders’ Cup continued to the end.  Mr. Nerud leaves a remarkable legacy, and all of us who love racing mourn his passing.”


Despite his many successes in the Thoroughbred business, he deemed his greatest accomplishment to be 69 year marriage to his beloved wife, Charlotte, who passed away in 2009. He is survived by his son Jan, daughter-in-law Debra, and grandkids.
A private family service will be held.

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