With the Kentucky Derby (G1) still several weeks away, we are going to spend the time analyzing the pedigree for some of the top contenders.

This week’s subject: Nadal.

While he has passed every challenge thus far (4-4-0-0 record), his pedigree for the classic 1 1/4-mile distance on the dirt is anything but proven. Let’s take a closer look at Nadal’s pedigree to see if he should be considered a Kentucky Derby contender or pretender.

( Content Continues Below Ad )

Kentucky Derby Ranking

With 150 points earned by way of winning both the Rebel Stakes (G2) and the second division of the Arkansas Derby (G1), he is currently sitting on top of the Kentucky Derby standings and is one of three Bob Baffert trainees in the top eight (along with Charlatan and Authentic). Nadal is either on or near the top of most experts’ Kentucky Derby rankings.

Sire Profile

Blame

Major career wins: 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1); 2010 Whitney (G1); 2010 Stephen Foster (G1)

Most famous for defeating the then-undefeated Zenyatta in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Blame had 5 other graded stakes wins – all going two turns – between 2009 and 2010. 

While Blame has had decent success as a sire with foals such as Senga and Marley’s Freedom, his progeny have only produced a total of 5 G1 wins, and Nadal is the only colt in that group. Blame has never had a Kentucky Derby starter, but his bloodline has.

Blame’s sire, Arch, most recently had Tax in the 2019 Kentucky Derby and is the broodmare sire of Uncle Mo, who sired the 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist. He is also the broodmare sire of the 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another, and Blame’s dam side runs through the legendary Mr. Prospector bloodline (Liable – Seeking the Gold – Mr. Prospector).

Blame is in uncharted territory as a sire with Nadal, but based on his pedigree, this colt is not outside the realm of possibility.

Dam Profile

Ascending Angel

Major career wins: None

Winless in 12 career starts – with 11 of those coming on turf – Ascending Angel was anything but a proven racehorse. She has only had 2 foals to race, and Nadal is her lone winner.

While Ascending Angel did not have any success on the racetrack, her bloodline has. Her sire, Pulpit, ran fourth in the 1997 Kentucky Derby, and her grandsire, A.P. Indy, won the Belmont Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1992.

Pulpit also sired Tapit, perennially a leading champion stallion and an emerging stallion of stallions.

Nadal after winning the San Vicente Stakes (G2) (Credit: Ernie Belmonte)

Nadal’s pedigree includes an unproven sire and dam, but combined has plenty of potential, so until he shows otherwise my belief is that he is a major Kentucky Derby contender. Do you agree? Or he is a pretender?

Let me know what you think!

Vinny Blond is a New York-based handicapper who is one half of Real Dynasty Picks. Follow him on Twitter @PicksByDynasty.