'Remember the Name' of Nadal for the Kentucky Derby

Profile Picture: Rowan Ward

March 19th, 2020

"This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill

Fifteen percent concentrated power of will

Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain

And a hundred percent reason to remember the name"


"Remember the Name" by Fort Minor (featuring Styles of Beyond) portrays being a good rapper as a balance of talent, confidence, and the ability to work hard.  Those skills aren't just for people trying to make music; they serve a horse on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail just as well.

Coming into the Rebel (G2), we knew Nadal had two of those qualities.

Between his $700,000 purchase price, his owners' bravado to name him after a modern tennis great, and all the buzz leading into his Jan. 19 debut at Santa Anita, everyone in horse racing expected Nadal to show talent. He delivered with a comfortable maiden win, then held the onslaught at bay in the San Vicente (G2).

We knew he had confidence. From his muscled bay presence in training, through the final furlong of his maiden joyride, to the his defiance down the lane in the San Vicente, he had enough swagger to turn heads, hold attention, and lure the public in well enough to make him the odds-on favorite in the Rebel, despite his inexperience.

He had to work as hard as he had ever been asked Saturday in the Rebel. It was his first time at two turns, his first trip out of California, and his first wet-track race. Mired on the rail, he had to handle more competition up front than ever, as several foes brought the fight early. 

As No Parole and American Theorem bowed out, Nadal stayed on strong. Even as Excession rallied from the clouds into those fiery fractions, Nadal dug in to win by three-quarters of a length.

With the Kentucky Derby scheduled for September, we're moving into uncharted territory. But being a star in horse racing, just as in music, will always demand a well-balanced concoction of ability, confidence, and fortitude.

After the Rebel, we will remember the name Nadal for more than just tennis.

Derby Remix is a weekly series that crosses the lines of culture and Kentucky Derby contenders.