Despite a tenuous situation, Spendthrift Farm general manager Ned Toffey says there is reason for optimism in the prognosis of multiple grade 1 winner Lord Nelson as the 5-year-old son of Pulpit continues to battle laminitis.
One day before the 46th annual Eclipse Awards, Spendthrift announced Lord Nelson would miss the 2017 breeding season due to the onset of the potentially fatal disease, which developed secondary to the infection in his right foreleg that caused him to scratch out of the Nov. 5 TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1). Though the nature of laminitis is marked by slow progress and fear that things can go sideways quickly, Toffey said Jan. 31 that the chestnut horse continues to hold his own in terms of condition with a bright attitude and appetite to match.
"Lord Nelson is doing well," Toffey said. "Right now what I would term progress is that he is holding steady. I would say we are cautiously optimistic about his future. He's on stall rest, he's quite comfortable, his attitude is great, he's eating great. He's taking care of himself.
"We have a pretty large team of people that are involved in his care and we are also consulting both locally and from around the country. Right now we feel pretty good about where he is."
That Lord Nelson's current condition originated from what seemed to be a fairly benign cut on his right front leg was just the latest example of the setbacks that can come from left field within the racing industry. Just as Lord Nelson was treated aggressively with antibiotics at the time of his initial injury, Toffey said the diligence by many to stay on top of his care since has kept the situation serious, but manageable.
"Something I've seen over the years is, very often some of the most serious situations we find ourselves in with horses are things that start out as things that seem to be fairly straight-forward and fairly routine," Toffey said. "Foot abscesses are things you routinely see on horses that one in maybe 100 can go the wrong way with you. That abscess may migrate to the coffin bone and it migrates into laminitis.
"It's an unfortunate setback but...he's maintained where he is and we feel good about his future."
Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and bred by Clearsky Farms, Lord Nelson was a finalist in the Eclipse Award balloting for champion male sprinter and champion older dirt male off the strength of a campaign that saw him win all four starts last season. He reeled off three straight grade 1 wins in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, Bing Crosby, and Triple Bend Stakes making him and eventual Horse of the Year California Chrome the only older males to win three top-level races on dirt in 2016.
Lord Nelson (Pulpit—African Jade, by Seeking the Gold) retired with seven wins from 13 starts and $958,271 in earnings. He was set to stand the 2017 season for $25,000.
"It's a little bit of a relief to take the pressure off having to worry about trying to breed him this year," Toffey said. "We can just give him all the time he needs. I am cautiously optimistic we're going to have for 2018 one of the most exciting stallion prospects we've ever brought to stud."