Photo: Benoit Photos
There was a horse race yesterday at Del Mar. The contest happens to be one of the most important races of the year at the glamourous Southern California track. In it, Jeranimo closed like a shot to roll by his competition and win the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes in high style. It was a rally that was pleasing to the eye to the many fans who watched.
There was also a horse race yesterday at Evangeline Downs. The track that is neither glamorous, nor in Southern California, hosted the contest for $4,000 claimers. In most ways it provided the starkest of contrasts to what was going on a few thousand miles to the west. It did have one strong connection, however, to the Eddie Read. For one of its participants was a former winner of the Grade 1 event.
His name was Monzante, and yesterday was an anniversary of sorts. On July 20, five years ago, a proud and powerful gray thoroughbred roared down the Del Mar stretch to go from last to first in the time it took fans where the turf meets the surf to say, “Wow!” If Jeranimo’s rallying win yesterday can be called explosive, than Monzante’s stretch run to win Del Mar’s most important turf race was more on the level of an H-bomb.
So how is it that a horse of this caliber, and this talent could end up in such a race as a $4,000 claimer at Evangeline Downs?
There would no cake or balloons at this anniversary.
“Monzante bobbled at the start, chased the early pace and stopped and was euthanized.”
The chart of the race, or rather the 14 word obituary of a once championship level runner, reads like a telltale sign of the lack of compassion for our old, our tired, our beaten down, or our downright cheap racehorses. Little information, even less caring, and no fanfare.
But Monzante was no cheap rachehorse. Or at least he didn’t used to be. Once a well bred son of Maria’s Mon, owned and bred by the powerful and regal Juddmonte Farm, Monzante came from England as a serious runner. Competing, and competing well, in the highest levels of racing in America, Monzante had his day in the sun at Del Mar in the Eddie Read. That sun has now set, and a once excellent horse was pushed to his death in an event with 1/50th of the purse money offered in his Eddie Read.
Was it Monzante’s fault that he could no longer compete at the high levels that he had earlier in his career?
Pushed to his death may sound extreme, but what is to become of horses like Monzante? Anyone who even saw him win that Grade 1 at Del Mar has to feel sick to their stomach. He fell from hearing the cheers of the rich and famous to the quiet desolation of a race few would even care about. Ultimately, he fell from poetry in motion to stopped and euthanized.
I haven’t talked with former owners, or former trainers of Monzante. I haven’t had the chance to ask them about the sequence of events that transpired to see a horse of this ability and heart, a horse that served many of his connections so well, fall so low to a point that he was not much more than a piece of meat being whipped for the opportunity to win someone a few thousand dollars.
Monzante was passed from owner to owner, and trainer to trainer many times. He was passed down until there was no place else to go but where he ended up at Evangeline Downs last night.
Didn’t Monzante deserve better? Doesn’t the next Monzante deserve better?
Rest in peace, Monzante.
*** Here is the link to the RIP Monzante petition ***