A Look Back at FL-Bred Gate Dancer and a Wild 1st Breeders’ Cup

In 1984, I had the pleasure to attend the inaugural running of the Breeders’ Cup as a reporter for The Florida Horse. My brother in law, Bryan Howlett, was farm manager for Tartan Farms, and by coincidence John Nerud was president and trainer for Tartan Farms.

He also happened to be on the board of the Breeders’ Cup and was a very big deal in that organization. One morning before the races, I happened to run into Nerud, and he invited me to ride with him around the Santa Anta facilities.

Nerud, the trainer of Dr. Fager and many other horses for Tartan Farms, lived to be 102.

What a thrill that was, and the thrills didn’t end there. Gate Dancer was running in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Gate Dancer was a Florida-bred, and an extremely good one…

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is an 18-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. Rich was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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