February 22, 2024

Kentucky Derby points leader Nadal injured, retired

Nadal Arkansas Derby
Nadal wins the 2020 Arkansas Derby Division 2 (Coady Photography)

Leading Kentucky Derby (G1) contender Nadal exited a workout with an injury that has prompted his retirement, as first reported by the Blood-Horse.

A perfect 4-for-4 after winning the second division of the Arkansas Derby (G1) on May 2, the Bob Baffert trainee negotiated a half-mile in :48.80 at his Santa Anita base Thursday. But something was amiss afterward, and Nadal was diagnosed with a condylar fracture in his left front.

“He came back from the work a little off so we checked him and there was a little line (on the X-ray),” Baffert told the Blood-Horse. “He had the beginnings of a fracture. It could have been worse, but we caught it before then.”

Surgery was performed and two screws inserted to repair the fracture. Stud plans are pending, but co-owner George Bolton has told several outlets that Spendthrift Farm is “in the pole position.”

Nadal was gearing up for the June 20 Belmont (G1), a 1 1/8-mile event this year with the reshuffling due to COVID-19. The son of Blame had topped the Derby leaderboard after amassing 150 points, 100 in his Arkansas Derby division and 50 from his two-turn debut in the Rebel (G2).

Stablemate Charlatan, who stayed unbeaten in the first Arkansas Derby division, was reportedly under consideration for the Woody Stephens (G1) rather than squaring off against Nadal in the Belmont. It remains to be seen whether Nadal’s retirement changes the equation for Charlatan, who’s made headlines himself this week for a different reason. According to published reports, Charlatan returned a positive postrace test at Oaklawn Park. A split sample is being tested as part of the process to determine whether he can retain his Arkansas Derby victory, and 100 Derby points, or be disqualified.

Unraced at two, Nadal began his brief career in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden Jan. 19 at Santa Anita and passed his first stakes test in the 7-furlong San Vicente (G2). He retires with $1,053,000 in earnings.

Nadal was bred by Sierra Farm in Kentucky and sold to Randy Bradshaw for $65,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. Commanding $700,000 at Fasig-Tipton Florida’s Gulfstream Sale, he raced for Bolton, Arthur Hoyeau, Barry Lipman, and Mark Mathiesen.