There was palpable shock on Thursday 28 May when it emerged that serial winner and undefeated multiple champion Nadal has retired following a career-ending injury sustained while working out at Santa Anita Park.
The terrible injury, a left front lateral condylar fracture, required immediate surgery at the equine hospital at the Southern California track, co-owner George Bolton said.
Before his career-ending injury, Nadal had been the frontrunner to sweep the stakes at the 2020 Kentucky Derby which was rescheduled from March to 5 September due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But the 3-year-old colt will now spend the rest of his life in retirement passing his seed to assorted mares as a stud.
“He is now going to become a stallion. It’s very sad, obviously. I just got the call this morning. It’s a call you never want to get in horse racing,” Bolton said.
“He retires undefeated. He retires, thank God, on a soon-to-be recovery. He gave us four great races.”
Trainer Bob Baffert said Nadal’s surgery went well, adding the colt would stay at his Santa Anita stable for a few weeks during the early part of his post-surgery recovery.
Describing the events that led to Nadal’s unfortunate injury, Baffert told Horse Racing Nation: “He breezed a half (mile). Everything went well. He came back to the barn and you could tell he was a little bit off. We X-rayed him.”
“He already went to surgery,” Baffert said. “They put two screws in it. It looks good.”
Nadal who was born to the Chestnut Filly Ascending Angel is said to have a large frame and weighed over 1,300 pounds which made him an imposing presence on the track where he employed a front-running style.
The undefeated Nadal led the latest National Thoroughbred Racing Association Top 3-Year-Old Poll with 150 points and was the highest point earner on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Bred by Sierra Farm in Kentucky, Nadal never tasted defeat in all four races he competed in since winning on his very first outing as a racehorse on 19 January 19 at Santa Anita.
His maiden win was followed by consecutive stakes victories at the 9 February San Vicente Stakes (G2), 14 March Rebel Stakes (G2), and the 2 May Arkansas Derby (G1) for a perfect 4-for-4 and $1,053,000 in prize money.