While trainer Bob Baffert has said the "window is open" for Nadal to return to the races, co-owner George Bolton is still thinking retirement for the unbeaten Grade 1 winner.
Days after Nadal exited a work toward the Belmont Stakes with a hairline condylar fracture in his left front leg, George Bolton discussed the dramatic turn of events, including the call he received from Baffert with the bad news.
"When it’s early in the morning, it's either a great work or something happened," Bolton told Mike Penna, host of Horse Racing Radio's Equine Forum, on Saturday morning. "(Baffert) called me and said the horse got hurt and you sink very low in your chair and try to catch your breath."
Bolton has campaigned numerous horses over the years and owns experience dealing with top-class runners from participating in their crop's biggest races, most notably The Factor, who missed the 2011 Kentucky Derby.
He told Penna that he processed the information Baffert gave him quickly.
"The next question of course is, ‘Is he gonna make it?’ and he said, ‘Before this thing displaces we have to get him in to surgery to get it supported by a pin or two,’" Bolton said. "It took two big screws."
Because the break wasn't compound in nature, "it's not your biggest nightmare," Bolton added, saying Nadal is "happy in his stall."
"He’s gonna have 30 days of stall rest," Bolton said. "Then he will become a stallion in Kentucky. We are talking to farms right now."
Nadal sat atop the 2020 Kentucky Derby points standings off a May 2 victory in the second division of the Arkansas Derby (G1). That added to scores in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) around one turn and the Rebel Stakes (G2) going two.
The son of Blame was preparing for the June 20 Belmont Stakes when working Thursday at Santa Anita Park.
"You have to sit back and you think, you went Bob Baffert, you started him Jan. 19 and he won four races in a row, capping it off with a Grade 1 on Derby day," Bolton said. "As an investor in the horse, he created great stallion value already."
Arthur Hoyeau, Barry Lipman and Mark Mathiesen own Nadal with Bolton.
"Baffert told me yesterday, ‘He would have won the Derby. You just won the other one,’ and I think the saddest part was this was going to be a great race between him and Tiz the Law in the Belmont," Bolton said.
Bolton also offered Penna an interesting tidbit regarding his history with Baffert.
"I went and checked the stats," he said. "We have an 80% win rate together since 2003. You can name the horses: Cotton Bay, Roman Ruler, The Factor, Nadal. I mean, he’s really in a league of his own."