We have been fans of Lord Nelson since before his retirement to stud, and although breeding to a stallion during the year that his first 2YOs will run always carries with it some risk, we think that Lord Nelson has a big chance to make it and offers outstanding value at his $10,000 live foal fee for 2021 — so he makes an exciting backup plan for Participate after our first choice for her this spring was unavailable on her latest cover date.
A $340,000 Keeneland September yearling, Lord Nelson broke his maiden first time out in July of his 2-year-old season, going 5 furlongs at Del Mar, back when that track had an all-weather surface. He stretched all the way out to 1-1/16 miles in Grade 1 company for his second start two months later, in which he came home 4th behind American Pharoah and Texas Red in the FrontRunner. Shortened back up to 6 furlongs, he romped by more than six lengths in the Speakeasy Stakes, then closed out his juvenile campaign with a 5th-place finish in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club.
Lord Nelson’s sophomore debut saw him out-kick Texas Red to win the Grade 2 San Vicente at 7 furlongs, and he also finished 2nd in the Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes that spring, sandwiched between 4th-place finishes in the Grade 2 San Felipe and Grade 3 Pat Day Mile. Lord Nelson went missing that summer, eventually returning to the races with a 3rd behind Runhappy in the Grade 1 Malibu at 7 furlongs off more than a six-month layoff. Off for another six months after that – during which time he was purchased by Spendthrift Farm – Lord Nelson returned as a 4-year-old and reeled off four wins in four starts: (1) a 6-furlong allowance over Grade 3 winner Ocho Ocho Ocho in 1:07.94, (2) the Grade 1 Triple Bend in 1:21.04 for 7 furlongs, (3) the Grade 1 Bing Crosby by four lengths in 1:07.65 for 6 furlongs (a new stakes record at Del Mar), and (4) the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship at 6 furlongs. Unfortunately, Lord Nelson had to scratch from the Breeders’ Cup Sprint two days prior to the race when a small cut on his leg became infected, and he subsequently retired to Spendthrift. He was an Eclipse Award finalist for both Champion Sprinter and Champion Older Dirt Male in 2016.
Although his stud career got off to a delayed start, Lord Nelson has nonetheless covered full books of mares in each of his first three seasons at stud (even if “full” in this case is closer to 130 than the 200+ Spendthrift gets to some of its stallions, due to Lord Nelson’s feet following his laminitis scare stemming from that career-ending injury). And his first crop has looked the part — 39 yearlings sold in 2020 (of 49 offered) for an average of over $80,000, including individuals for $460,000, $325,000, $220,000, $185,000, $170,000, etc, while his 2021 2YOs in-training have averaged $100k with individuals for $385,000, $375,000, $310,000, etc.
Lord Nelson has significantly more leg and scope to him than you would typically expect for a top-class sprinter, and we won’t be surprised if he throws horses more inclined to two-turns than what he himself showed on the track. That should make him a nice match for Participate — she’s a big, strapping, slightly coarse mare who did her best running going long at 4YO and 5YO, and he will hopefully inject some speed and precocity into their foal without being complete opposites on the physicality and proclivities spectrums.
We also love this pairing on pedigree. TrueNicks rates it an “A”, with the Pulpit/Include cross being responsible for G2 winners Pink Sands and Amalfi Coast, as well as the 2021 G2-placed 3YO Proxy, who looks to have a stakes win in him at some point in the near future. Participate’s sire, Include, has done very well as a stallion when bred to mares with more Turn-To blood (Include himself is inbred 4x4x4 to Turn-To) and Lord Nelson brings three more of those crosses to the equation, and there’s every reason to think that will be successful in the reverse, too.
Participate’s family has also had success with AP Indy-line stallions like Lord Nelson. Participate’s half-sister Love Heart is the dam of stakes-placed, $200k-earner Gifted Heart by a Pulpit son, while under Participate’s third dam are additional black-type horses Hypothesis (multiple SW by Algorithms), Golden Debutante (SPW by Malibu Moon), Lady Flatter (SPW by Flatter), and All About Attitude (SPW by Majestic Warrior, who is by AP Indy out of a Seeking the Gold mare, making him bred similarly to Lord Nelson).
All of which hopefully leads to a successful Maryland-bred foal to be born in 2022!
Lord Nelson wins the G1 Bing Crosby
Lord Nelson wins the G1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship
Lord Nelson wins the G1 Triple Bend