Guest Column: An Unbridled Connection

Guest Column: An Unbridled Connection

09 March, 2015
– Lisa Barrett

Noble Tune. Image: Candiese Marnewick

Racing and breeding are closely intertwined on so many levels, and one finds connections in all sorts of places. On February 27th this year a colt Final Chapter won an allowance race over six furlongs at Aqueduct Park, New York.

At first glance this is not particularly noteworthy, but when you look at the gentleman who bred him, the penny drops.

He is none other than the 102 and still going strong, John Nerud, famous for being the trainer of the legendary racehorse Dr Fager.

However Nerud has a connection with KwaZulu Natal breeding that is not as well known, he also bred the outstanding Unbridled, who is the grand sire of the Rathmor-based stallion Noble Tune [pictured right].

Nerud was for many years associated with Tartan Farms, being their trainer and general manager, and was credited in raising the profile of the farm through the top class sprinter Intentionally.

He was also responsible for launching the stud careers of the foundation mares Aspidistra and Cequillo. It was his efforts in building through careful matings, that he was able to eventually produce Unbridled.

Nerud was something of a magician, taking a bit of this and that and mixing them to maximum effect. Using the daughter of Cequillo, Grand Splendour, Nerud then took her daughter Killaloe, and mated her to Mr. Prospector and produced Fappiano, sire of Unbridled.

John Nerud

Continuing with his mating magic, he took Aspidistra’s unraced Buckpasser filly Magic and mated her to the top class sprinter In Reality, which produced Charedi, who in turn produced Gana Facil.

As Fappiano was standing at Tartan, it was a given that he would be mated to Gana Facil, and that union produced Unbridled, a horse who was to have a lasting impact on breeding and racing around the world.

Undoubtedly one of his best sons was Unbridled’s Song, out of Trolley Song. Unbridled’s Song was a multiple Grade One winner, who was retired to stud early due to ongoing hoof problems.

He produced several top class horses including Breeders Cup Juvenile winner Midshipman and the ill-fated filly Eight Belles. Unbridled’s Song had 15 Grade One winners, and 730 winners from just over 1000 lifetime starters to date, who earned nearly $90 million in career earnings.

Dr Fager

When Graydar, his leading older horse won the Donn Handicap (Gr1) at Gulfstream in late 2013, he took his sires tally to a 100 career stakes winners a landmark of triple digit stakes winners that only 26 other stallions in North American history have ever accomplished.

Add to that his lifetime average yearling price of $298,118, which leads all North American sires, and Unbridled’s Song ranks third all-time among North American sires by yearling gross sales with $198,844,653. Certainly not a bad connection for the locally-based Noble Tune to share!

Nerud is not only remembered for breeding and racing Unbridled, but he also produced the top class Cozzene, winner of the Breeder’s Cup Mile and later a significant sire of top class horses and millionaires; Admire Cozzene, Cozzene’s Star, Eishin Berlin and Alphabet Soup.

However its his connection with the immortal Dr Fager [pictured right] that Nerud is best remembered. Dr Fager.

Named after the neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Fager who saved his life when he fell off a horse, the colt out of Apidistra went on to become one of the greatest racehorses of the modern era, and the only horse to garner four awards in one year: 1968 Horse of the Year, Champion Sprinter, Champion Grass Horse, and Champion Handicap Horse, unheard of in the modern racing era.

When Dr. Charles Fager died last year at the ripe old age of 90, it brought the curtain down the unique relationship that Fager and Nerud shared.

In the end it all comes back to connections, ones which can be found everywhere you look. The hope is that Noble Tune will make the most of his great legacy and connections and take KZN breeding and racing to the top of the pile, both locally and internationally.

Lisa Barrett
– Guest Writer

“Lisa Barrett”, her psuedonym, currently works at a stud farm in the KZN Midlands. She is absolutely and totally crazy about horses and every aspect of them. She is fascinated by every aspect of the racehorse business, especially pedigrees and would like to one day write a book on her favourite sire!

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