Anne M. Eberhardt

Bertrando, Champion and Top CA Sire, Dies

Pensioned stallion succumbs at age 25 to natural causes March 27 at River Edge Farm.

Eclipse Award winner and former leading California stallion Bertrando succumbed naturally to infirmities of old age March 27 at River Edge Farm, longtime farm manager Russell Drake confirmed.

Bertrando, who was 25, was buried at Martin and Pam Wygod's farm, located near Buellton, Calif., on the morning of March 28, Drake said. Bertrando had been retired to River Edge, where he formerly stood as a stallion, after being pensioned following the 2011 breeding season at Ballena Vista Farm.

"About a week ago, he hadn't been feeling as peppy as he had been," said Drake, who explained that Bertrando had been suffering from circulation problems as the result of a weakening heart. "He was such a great old horse, and I wanted to give him every chance I could. But the vets didn't think there was much that could be done."

Bertrando was a son of Skywalker out of the Buffalo Lark mare Gentle Hands bred in California by Edward Nahem, who raced him in partnership with Marshall Naify's 505 Farms and Gus Headley, son of trainer Bruce Headley. The tall, sleek dark bay was also conditioned by Bobby Frankel and John Shirreffs during a 24-race career that included nine victories and eight placings with earnings of $3,185,610.

In 1993, 4-year-old Bertrando won the Eclipse Award as Outstanding Older Male during a season in which he captured the San Fernando Stakes (gr. II), Pacific Classic (gr. I) and Woodward Stakes (gr. I). He missed out on a likely Horse of the Year title when he finished second to 133-1 shot Arcangues in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park as the 6-5 favorite.

Two years earlier, Bertrando had won the Norfolk Stakes (gr. I) and the Del Mar Futurity (gr. II) and finished second to Arazi in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I).

Nahem, who died in 2007, stood Bertrando in partnership at River Edge with Martin Wygod, Ballena Vista, and Marsha Naify. Bertrando was California's leading sire in 2005 and 2007, producing such notable grade I winners as Officer, Karelian, Unfurl the Flag, and Bilo. Bertrando is also represented by grade II winners Smooth Player, Liberian Freighter, Queenie Belle, Scholars Studio, and Sierra Sunset, his only son standing at stud at Premier Thoroughbreds.

He also sired Tamarando , winner of the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) in February and victorious in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) last September, from his next-to-last crop.

Bertrando has sired 549 winners from 794 runners, including 60 stakes victors14 in graded raceswith progeny earnings of more than $46 million. After standing his entire stud career at River Edge Farm, he was relocated to Don Cohn's Ballena Vista Farm, near Ramona, Calif., late in 2010 after River Edge had decided to cease its breeding operation. Bertrando returned to River Edge in retirement after one season.

"He got infertile a couple of years ago and I brought him back here," Drake said. "I always loved him and I wanted to have him here where he could live out his days eating grass and doing what he wanted to do.

"Everybody here really enjoyed him because he was a happy horse, a good horse to be around," Drake added. "He was never vicious."