Nadal, a Kentucky Derby favorite, fractures leg at Santa Anita

Horses race past empty stands at Santa Anita Park on May 22.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Nadal, one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby, was retired following a workout at Santa Anita on Thursday after suffering a fracture to his left front leg.

The undefeated colt already had earned 150 qualifying points and was ranked No. 1 in the National Thoroughbred Racing Assn. poll of 3-year-olds. The news of the injury was first reported by the BloodHorse after confirmation from co-owner George Bolton.

Nadal was coming off a win in the split division of the Arkansas Derby, his fourth straight win. Nadal underwent surgery at Santa Anita with two screws inserted to repair a lateral condylar fracture. He had completed a half-mile workout. As a Grade 1 stakes winner, he now will be sent to the breeding shed.

This has been a tumultuous time for trainer Bob Baffert, who started the week with an incredible bench of three undefeated horses for the Kentucky Derby, which is scheduled for Sept. 5. But Tuesday, media reports said that the Baffert-trained winner of the other Arkansas Derby division, Charlatan, tested positive for lidocaine, an analgesic. Lidocaine is an approved drug, but only in certain dosages. It is believed the positive was for being over the legal limit.


Del Mar will start its summer meeting eight days earlier but only race three days a week in response to the coronavirus outbreak. There will be no spectators.

A split sample is being sent to a different laboratory. If the sample comes back negative, it would be as if nothing happened. If the second test reaffirms the first test, there would be investigation that could lead to Charlatan’s disqualification from the Arkansas Derby and a fine and suspension for Baffert.

Charlatan would be eligible to run in other qualifying races.

Nadal and Charlatan were scheduled to run in the Belmont Stakes on June 20. Charlatan may run in the Woody Stephens at Belmont.

Baffert’s third horse, Authentic, undefeated in three starts in including a win in the San Felipe, is set to run in the Santa Anita Derby on June 6.