John A. Nerud
Nerud, who was born on a ranch in Minatare, Nebraska, worked as a rodeo cowboy, groom and most notably as a trainer during his youth. Prior to serving in World War II, he was the agent for Hall of Fame jockey Ted Atkinson in New England. He served with the United States Navy during the war, then returned to racing as an assistant to Frank J. Kearns at Woolford Farm. He eventually took over from Kearns and in 1949 trained his first Champion when Delegate earned American Co-Champion Sprint Horse honors.
Nerud spent the bulk of his 44 year training career (1935–1978) as a trainer, president and general manager for William L. McKnight's Tartan Farms in Ocala, Florida. When Nerud retired from training in 1978, he remained at Tartan as manager of racing and breeding.
As a trainer, Nerud first drew national attention in 1956 after prepping Switch On to win the Palm Beach and McLennan Handicaps. The following season, in 1957, Nerud lost the Kentucky Derby by a nose to Iron Liege after jockey Bill Shoemaker, aboard Gallant Man, misjudged the finish line. Gallant Man later defeated Bold Ruler in a record breaking Belmont Stakes.
Nerud's most acclaimed runner was Hall of Fame inductee, Dr. Fager. In 1968, Dr. Fager became the only thoroughbred to win four Championships in one year: Sprinter, Turf Horse, Handicap Horse and Horse of the Year. In addition to Delegate, Nerud also trained champions Intentionally (1959 Sprinter) Ta Wee (1969, 1970 Sprinter and also a Hall of Fame inductee) and Dr. Patches (1978 co-Sprinter). Overall, Nerud is credited with saddling over 1,000 winners including 27 stakes winners.
Nerud helped turned Tartan into one of the nation's top racing and breeding operations. Besides developing an excellent broodmare band, Tartan stood Dr. Fager, Intentionally, In Reality and later, Hold Your Peace, Codex and Smile.
Nerud also bred and owned Fappiano, sire of the champion and top stallion Unbridled.
Founding Director of Breeders' Cup
During the early 1980s, Nerud assisted in the early development of the Breeders' Cup, helping founder John R. Gaines to sell the concept to horsemen across the nation. As a Founding Member, Nerud also served as chairman of the Breeders' Cup marketing committee in its formative years.
He remains a Director Emeritus of Breeders' Cup, Ltd.
Nerud and his wife Charlotte are resident of Old Brookville, New York.
- NTRA article title John Nerud to Receive Eclipse Award of Merit For Lifetime Achievement in Thoroughbred Racing