Kentucky Derby Daily – Day 17
It’s hard to believe it has been ten years since Monarchos
exploded past the field early in the Churchill Downs stretch to win the 127th
Kentucky Derby going away. Ridden by Jorge Chavez, the grey flash finished 4 ¾ lengths
in front of runner-up Invisible Ink, while big favorite Point Given finished a
well beaten fifth in the 2001 run for the roses. Besides the ease of the
victory, it was the time of that year’s Derby that will help Monarchos be
remembered for years to come.
On a track that had been yielding fast times all day,
and buoyed by blazing early fractions, the son of Maria’s Mon rolled home in
near record time. Becoming only the second winner of the Kentucky Derby to
break two minutes, Monarchos hit the wire in 1:59.97. Only the great Secretariat won in a faster
time. The Derby proved to be the highlight of his career, as he could not
repeat the effort in either the Preakness, or the Belmont. He ended his career
with four wins, including the Florida Derby earlier that spring, in ten lifetime
starts for owner John Oxley and trainer John Ward. Ten years later, I find
myself reminiscing about him and praying for his health.
Monarchos underwent colic surgery yesterday at the
Hagyard Equine Medical Institute veterinary clinic in Lexington to correct a
twisted bowel, according to Charles Nuckols III. Colic, and the surgery to
treat it, can be life threatening to a thoroughbred horse, so I was relieved to
hear that everything went well, and the prognosis for a full recovery is very
good. In fact, Nuckols, the owner of Nuckols Farm in Midway, Kentucky, where
Monarchos stands stud, believes that if all goes well, Monarchos can resume
covering mares in three to four weeks. It was frightening and then hopeful news
all in one.
As a stallion, he may not be highest priced one out there,
but the thirteen-year-old Monarchos has met recent success as the sire of 2009
champion female sprinter Informed Decision. His other graded stakes winner is still
going strong in multiple Grade 2 victor, Win Willy, who took home first prize
just last week in the Oaklawn Handicap. To date, progeny of Monarchos have
earned just a shade under $13 million.
As we approach the 137th edition of the
grand show that is the Kentucky Derby, we should never forget all the great
horses that have run in it the past 136 years, and especially the winners. One
of those winners was Monarchos, and yesterday he was in a life threatening
situation. Get well soon Monarchos; we will never forget your incredible Derby
performance of ten years ago.