By Ben Massam
In many ways, Lord Nelson (Pulpit)’s young stallion career at Spendthrift Farm has been a story of benchmarks. After a well-documented battle with Laminitis that forced him to miss the 2017 breeding season, the chestnut was given a clean bill of health later last year and, on Feb. 26, had his first mare confirmed in foal. Now just shy of two months into the breeding season, Lord Nelson has passed every test with flying colors and appears ready to handle an increased book size. Ned Toffey, Spendthrift Farm General Manager, said Wednesday that the farm plans on adding a handful of extra mares to his 2018 book, which was intentionally kept on the small size for the stallion’s first season at stud.
“We’re keeping him on a somewhat limited book, but he’s actually doing so well that we’re just now going to open up a few more spots for selected, quality mares,” Toffey said. “We’re doing it because we’re about seven weeks into the breeding season, and the horse is really proving to us that the workload is not a problem at all for him.”
Toffey said that from the beginning of the breeding season, Spendthrift’s plan has been to “listen to the horse” when managing Lord Nelson’s book. When all is said and done, Lord Nelson is expected to breed between 120 and 125 mares–although Toffey believes the 6-year-old stallion is capable of handling significantly more.
“He could not be doing any better,” Toffey said. “There’s a lot of hard work and a lot of hours put in–a lot of dedication by a lot of people. We have one tough horse, and a lot of luck that is paying off.”
Although Spendthrift continues to keep a close eye on Lord Nelson’s progress, Toffey said the stallion has handled the physical and mental demands of his new career flawlessly.
“He’s on the same routine as any stallion at Spendthrift,” said Toffey. “He does still wear a custom shoe to help make sure that we keep things in good order, but he gets turned out every morning. He’s breeding a good book of mares, and his fertility has been very good so far. He’s a very good breeder. One of the things that’s been very apparent with this horse is what a smart animal he is. He takes care of himself, and he’s very easy on himself in the breeding shed. He’s really doing well.”
On the track, Lord Nelson enjoyed a stellar 2016 season, capturing the GI Triple Bend S., GI Bing Crosby S. and GI Santa Anita Sprint Championship for Spendthrift and trainer Bob Baffert. Those performances stamped him as the likely favorite for the GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint, but the chestnut was forced to scratch and retire from racing after contracting a leg infection in the days leading up to the World Championships. With Lord Nelson having successfully conquered Laminitis in 2017, Toffey said he has all the confidence in the world in the horse going forward.
“This horse has been through the ringer,” Toffey said. “I have not seen many horses get to the point that this horse got to and make the kind of recovery that he has. We can intervene, and the veterinary care for Laminitis has improved so much–those are all really important things–but none of that works without the patient. This guy is just so intelligent and mentally tough. It makes me that much more excited about breeding to this horse.”