John Nerud in 2004

John Nerud in 2004

Anne M. Eberhardt

National Museum to Get Nerud Collection

Trophies, awards and artwork among items going to Saratoga's Racing Hall of Fame.

(from National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame release)

Hall of Fame trainer John Nerud has bequeathed his collection of trophies, awards, and works of art to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Nerud, 96, and his wife Charlotte live in Old Brookville, NY. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.

The bequest to the museum by Nerud includes trophies won by Hall of Fame members Dr. Fager and Gallant Man, champions Dr. Patches and Cozzene; the Eclipse Award of Merit he received in 2006; a bronze of Fappiano by Jim Reno; and a painting of Gallant Man by the acclaimed equine artist Richard Stone Reeves.

“We are so happy that John has decided to pledge more than 30 items of great historic value to us,” said Joseph E. Aulisi, the museum’s director. “It will be a spectacular addition to the museum’s collection. What a great way to start 2009.”

Aulisi said that Lance Bell of Saratoga Springs, a Nerud family friend for decades, played a major role in arranging the bequest of the memorabilia and artwork.

Nerud grew up on a farm in Nebraska. During much of his 44-year training career he worked for William L. McKnight, who owned and operated Tartan Farms in Ocala, Fla.  After he retired from training in 1978, Nerud continued his association with Tartan, managing its breeding and racing operations.

Dr. Fager, named for the neurosurgeon who saved Nerud's life, is the best known of the many notable equine stars the horseman handled during his career. The Tartan Farms homebred became the only horse in the history of American racing to win four titles in a single season: champion sprinter, champion turf horse, champion older horse and Horse of the Year.

Nine trophies won by Dr. Fager will be part of Nerud’s bequest to the museum, including those won in the Suburban Handicap and Gotham over archrival Damascus. Trophies won by Gallant Man in the 1957 Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes will also be a part of the gift. Also in the collection is the Eclipse Award won by Cozzene in 1985. John Nerud bred and owned the horse, who was trained by his son, Jan. Other breed-shaping horses bred by Nerud include Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled and leading sire Fappiano, to name a few.

“John was one of the most important Thoroughbred horsemen of the 20th century,” Aulisi. “He pretty much did it all as a trainer, a breeder, a jockey agent, a farm manager who was instrumental in the development of the breeding industry in Florida, and a founding member of the Breeders’ Cup. It is fitting that many of the trophies and awards from his distinguished career will be part of the permanent collection and on display at the museum.”