05/05/2013 1:07PM

2011 Kentucky Derby runner-up Nehro dies of colic

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Barbara D. Livingston
Nehro died Saturday morning after suffering an attack of colic.

Nehro, runner up in the 2011 Kentucky Derby, died of colic Saturday morning.

A 5-year-old son of Mineshaft, Nehro had been showing signs of discomfort in his stall at Churchill Downs earlier in the morning, and his condition “spiraled badly” according to trainer Steve Asmussen. Nehro died en route to a nearby clinic.

“I am deeply saddened,” said owner Ahmed Zayat. “Nehro was my favorite horse whom I had a deep bond with. Everyone who came in contact with this horse loved him. He cannot be replaced, and I’m devastated.”

Nehro’s death came just shy of the two-year anniversary of his second-place finish to Animal Kingdom in the 2011 Kentucky Derby, where he led briefly at the top of the stretch and carried on for the runner-up spot. He was the betting public’s third choice that day at odds of 8-1, following second-place finishes in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby.

Nehro’s career was frequently stalled by injury, including an ankle chip sustained during a fourth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes that ended his 3-year-old season. He came back in the first half of 2012, highlighted by an allowance win in his return at Fair Grounds and a second by a nose in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special Stakes, but another ankle chip brought an abrupt end to his campaign following a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap.

Nehro was on the comeback trail once again this spring, finishing fifth in an optional claiming race at Oaklawn Park, in what would prove to be his final race.

In total, Nehro won 2 of 12 races for earnings of $978,381. Though he never attained that graded stakes victory that eluded him through his racing career, Nehro did finish second in four graded stakes tries.

“I can’t put into words how much respect I have for Nehro,” Asmussen said. “He was loved by everyone around the barn. What a cool horse. Quality animal. Just a horrible, horrible deal,”

Bred in Kentucky by Mt. Brilliant farm, Nehro was out of stakes-winning Afleet mare The Administrator, who is the dam of five winners from six to race. He was a half-brother to Grade 3 winner Saint Marden and stakes winner Sweet Lips.

Zayat Stables purchased Nehro out of the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale for $170,000.

“I was very sad to get the news from Steve first thing this morning,” said racing manager Justin Zayat. “We’re extremely heartbroken and stunned. For him to run so great and be second in the Derby, and now for this to happen on Derby Day, it’s just very emotional.”