Nehro working at Churchill Downs in preparation for the Belmont Stakes.

Nehro working at Churchill Downs in preparation for the Belmont Stakes.

Reed Palmer Photography

A Nehro Win Would be Brilliant for Goodman

Greg Goodman's Mt. Brilliant Farm bred Nehro, a top contender for the Belmont Stakes.

Zayat Stables’ Nehro, second in last month’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) will have plenty of backers June 11 as enters the gate for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). One particular fan who plans on being in the stands at Belmont Park will be Greg Goodman. The owner of Mt. Brilliant Farm, just north of Lexington, bred the son of Mineshaft .

Nehro, the probable third choice for the 12-furlong “Test of the Champions,” has but one victory in six starts, but has been right there with the best of his generation all spring. After breaking his maiden Feb. 21 at Oaklawn Park for trainer Steve Asmussen, he was pitched into the March 26 Louisiana Derby (gr. II) and he closed strongly to miss by a neck to Pants On Fire at 36-1. On April 16, he again came with a furious rally to miss catching Archarcharch by a neck in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I). He was on the pace in the Kentucky Derby and held second behind Animal Kingdom .

Despite the tough beats, Goodman is “real happy about him. Everybody at the farm is really pulling for him.”

Goodman, through Mt. Brilliant Farm, agent, sold Nehro to Ahmed Zayat for $170,000 out of the fourth session at the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale.

Goodman, a native of Houston, Texas, has about 30 mares in total. While he’s bred and raised many good Thoroughbreds—such as grade I winners Snow Ridge, Salty Ridge, and Café Olympus (Jpn)—he said he gets a thrill out of selling horses.

“Every once in a while we’ll keep a few fillies and race them,” he said.

The Administrator, the dam of Nehro, joined the Mt. Brilliant broodmare band in 2003. Following Mike Ryan’s advice, Goodman purchased the daughter of Afleet (in foal to Unbridled's Song) for $500,000 at the 2003 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. She was off to a hot start as a producer as her first foal, Saint Marden, had won the Discovery Handicap (gr. III) in 2002. Her second foal, Sweet Lips (by Kris S.) would go on to win the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff Stakes and place in the La Canada Stakes (gr. II) in 2005.

“Usually we do our work on doing the mares, but Mike came up to me and said he really liked this mare and that I should go see her,” Goodman said. “That’s not an unusual price for a mare for us. She was nice and she’s not over the top. As far as price goes, she’s not the most expensive mare we have and she’s not the cheapest.”

It’s been a good investment. The resultant foal following the purchase, a filly later named Sonoma Song, sold for $550,000 as a yearling with the late Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables picking up the tab. Goodman mated The Administrator to Giant's Causeway  the following year and that yearling fetched $500,000 the next September.

In 2007 Goodman and his crew selected 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft to be mated with The Administrator, and that produced Nehro.

“We really liked the cross with Mineshaft,” Goodman said. “We’re very careful about the crosses we do. We spend a lot of time looking at what we think works with our mares.”

The stallion selection process at Mt. Brilliant is taken very seriously.

“We have John Prather help us,” Goodman said. “My farm manager (Jody Alexander) and me and (bloodstock agent) Marette Farrell lock the doors and turn off the phones and spend days sitting around a room trying to see what the best crosses are for the mares that particular year."

In 2009, the team opted to go back to Giant’s Causeway. Nehro’s half sister has already been entered for this year’s September sale. The investment would pay off even more should she enter the ring the half sister to a classic winner.

That’s something else Goodman will be thinking about as he watches Nehro from the stands Saturday.