Breeders’ Cup Presents Connections: ‘You’re Starting To Sound Like Lukas!’

As Randy Bradshaw first laid eyes on the bay colt at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, he heard the consignor, an old client, say, “Even in the swimming pool, we can’t get this horse tired. He just never wears out.”

A 50-year veteran of the Thoroughbred industry, Bradshaw just smiled and nodded his head at the Sierra Farm representative.

“I looked at the horse and he was big, bigger than I usually like to buy,” Bradshaw remembered. “But he had good bone to him, so I took a chance.”

That chance continued to pay dividends last Saturday as Nadal stayed undefeated with an impressive victory in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn, winning by three lengths and stamping himself an early favorite for the re-scheduled Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5.

“Those kind of horses are really hard to find, so to have one vindicate himself like he did is a really good feeling,” said Bradshaw. “It’s a lot like when your kids play sports; it’s that same kind of excitement. There’s nothing better than what we do.”

Bradshaw secured the yearling son of Blame for $65,000 at the September sale, then took him home to his farm in Florida to prepare him for the 2-year-old sales. The colt stood out from the rest of the yearlings right away.

“He was a big, strong colt, so we were going slow with him,” Bradshaw said. “He was a really good one, he had a nickname around the barn, we called him the ‘Beast.’ He was just a big, strong, talented colt that we couldn’t wear out.”

Entered in the Fasig-Tipton Florida Select sale, Nadal worked an eighth of a mile in 10 seconds flat, then bucked and played his way back to his stall.

“When (trainer) Bob (Baffert) came to look at him, I told him, ‘This horse, you can’t hardly wear him out,’” Bradshaw said. “Bob said, ‘You’re starting to sound like Lukas!’”

Baffert was referring, of course, to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, for whom Bradshaw worked for over 10 years starting in the mid-1980s. Lukas was on the becoming a dominant force in the game, having made the switch from Quarter Horses just a few years before, but Bradshaw saw the trajectory his career was heading toward.

“I thought, ‘If I’m ever going to get anywhere in this business, I need to work with someone like Wayne,’” said Bradshaw. “I must have bothered him for four months to give me a job.

“He not only helped me find my eye, but also (showed me) how you treat people and how you are around them. He brings kids into the winner’s circle after he wins a race. He’s very well-spoken. Some of his interviews still give me chills to this day.

“My name was in the Racing Form every couple of days because I had the Midwest division, so you just get that notoriety. I give him credit every day, and I still break horses for him. I tell him there won’t be another one like him – I’ve never seen anyone that could make people spend money like he did!”

Nadal, winning the Arkansas Derby

Bradshaw may have picked up some of that talent as well. At the Gulfstream sale, Nadal brought a final bid of $700,000 from agent Kerri Radcliffe, and the millionaire colt is raced by the partnership of George Bolton, Arthur Hoyeau, Barry Lipman and Mark Mathiesen.

“I didn’t think that we’d get that much money for him, but we had two bidders that really wanted him,” Bradshaw said. “So, we had an idea he’d bring good money, but not that kind of money.”

Nadal has won all four of his career starts, including the G2 San Vicente, G2 Rebel, and now the G1 Arkansas Derby.

It’s hardly the first time Bradshaw has worked with a top-class horse, though he says each time is just as exciting as the one before it. The names on his CV include Kentucky Derby winner and champion Animal Kingdom, as well as Canadian or Eclipse champions Artax, Fatal Bullet, Ginger Brew, Ginger Punch, and Vindication, among many others.

Growing up in Wyoming, Bradshaw fell in love with the game after watching his uncle, trainer Lyman Rollins, at the track. His father eventually bought a few broodmares and a stallion, as well, so Bradshaw got to experience that side of the business up close and personal.

He went to the military after high school, doing a tour in Vietnam, but found his way back to racehorses after his discharge. After three years of apprenticeship under his uncle in Arizona, Bradshaw opened a public stable in the 1970s.

One of his first success stories was a horse named Petro D. Jay, who set a world record of 1:07 1/5 for six furlongs running at Turf Paradise. Bradshaw was just 31 years old at the time.

He shifted his operation to California for several years, working primarily for Tom Caldwell, before he worked his way into Lukas’ operation. The next 10 years were spent winning leading trainer titles as part of Team Lukas at Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Oaklawn Park, and working with top-class horses at the sport’s highest levels.

“I’ve really been blessed my whole career, being around good horses, so I know when one of these is going to jump up and be a good one,” Bradshaw said. “I’ve had a lot of favorites, but there’s a lot of them that just endear themselves to you and you never forget them.”

One such horse was the Lukas-trained mare Open Mind, a two-time Eclipse Award-winner who is now in the Hall of Fame.

“She had so much toughness and so much grit,” Bradshaw remembered.

Following his time with Lukas, Bradshaw took a short break (legend had the rugged Westerner operating a tree stump removal business in Idaho) before making his way back to the track.

In 2000, Bradshaw decided to shift his focus to young horses. He initially worked at Satish and Anne Sanan’s Padua training facility, and then oversaw Frank Stronach’s large breaking and training operation at Adena Springs South. In 2015, Bradshaw made the decision to purchase a farm and start his own breaking and training operation.

“You know, I still train for a lot of really good people, some of the best names in the business,” Bradshaw said. “I have arguably one of the best clientele in the country. … The horses are great in this game, I love animals, but the people I’ve met in this game are second to none. I really look forward to the new crop of babies every year, and the people I get to associate with.”

The 125 acres of the Robert N. Scanlon Training Center in Williston, Fla., are a perfect backdrop from which to watch his former charges work their way to the top of the racing world.

“The fun part for me is when we start to breeze these young horses and watch them progress,” Bradshaw explained. “I don’t have all the pressure to go out and win a race with them, but they still get me up off the couch in the afternoons!”

Only time will tell if the first Saturday in September is another couch-raising day for the Bradshaw operation.

The post Breeders’ Cup Presents Connections: ‘You’re Starting To Sound Like Lukas!’ appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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