'Nelson' poised to lord over BC Sprint rivals

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

October 25th, 2016

This is the first in a series profiling the top contenders for the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Lord Nelson's paternal family is one of the most highly regarded in American racing. By Pulpit, his classic-oriented patriarchal lineage traces back to A.P. Indy, Seattle Slew, Bold Ruler and *Nasrullah.

His female family has not been in America as long, but for generations was a highly prolific source of success in Argentina. Lord Nelson's second dam, Miss Linda, was the first to make her way to North America. A multiple champion in her native land, she made an impact in the U.S. winning the Spinster (G1) and Sabin H. (G3).

Multiple attempts were made to see if Lord Nelson would adapt to two-turn racing. A distant fourth-place effort to stablemate American Pharoah (remember him?) in the FrontRunner (G1) was an excusable effort on a variety of counts, not the least of which it occurred in only his second career start. However, two other unplaced finishes, in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and San Felipe (G2), the latter to stablemate Dortmund, proved to be all the further evidence needed to stick to one-turn racing.

Lord Nelson was already an accomplished sort in sprints through the spring of his sophomore campaign. A debut winner at Del Mar going five furlongs, he later captured the $100,000 Speakeasy at Santa Anita over six panels in between his FrontRunner and Kentucky Jockey Club losses.

In his three-year-old debut, Lord Nelson turned back a challenge from Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) hero Texas Red in the seven-furlong San Vicente (G2) and won by a neck. Two races later, he appeared hopelessly beaten on the far turn in the seven-furlong Bay Shore (G3) at Aqueduct, but rallied strongly to miss by a half-length.

A dull fourth in the Pat Day Mile (G1) around one turn on Kentucky Derby Day was followed by a lengthy absence. Lord Nelson reappeared in the December 26 Malibu (G1) at Santa Anita, which happened to be the season finale for Runhappy, who had virtually clinched champion male sprinter honors winning the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) at Keeneland in late October. Though no match for the champ when finishing third by 5 1/4 lengths, the Malibu happens to be the last time Lord Nelson has tasted defeat.

Starting his 2016 season in early June, Lord Nelson captured a six-furlong allowance at Santa Anita by 3 1/2 lengths. Victory in the June 25 Triple Bend (G1) over seven furlongs was more testing as he had to run down the freakishly fast Subtle Indian, which he finally did by a half-length, but Lord Nelson has had an easier time in the Bing Crosby (G1) and Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1), scoring by margins of four lengths and 2 1/2 lengths, respectively.

An alert breaker content with tracking a length or two off the lead before finding his best stride in upper or mid-stretch, Lord Nelson is well-poised to repeat the tactics in the Sprint that have brought him so much success this year. There's no question he'll get the pace to run at, and perhaps the only unforeseen obstacles standing in his way would be a bad start or a track bias aiding front runners.

(Benoit Photo)