Race of the Week 2017

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Zipse At The Track

Rest in peace, Monzante

Monzante 615 X 400
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 ***


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Older Comments about Rest in peace, Monzante...

Brian, thank you (and Steve H) for caring. I will sign. R I P to all horses who meet an untimely and unlucky fate.
July 25, 2013 I had to wait a few days to begin this letter, the emotions were too raw and the anger to intense. Monzante’s death was very personal to me. I am one of those that believed in Maria’s Mon as a sire, before it was ‘cool’ to do so. I used to laugh with other horsemen how about how underappreciated his prodigy were. Then the Derby win, followed by Awesome Maria and of course Monzante. Scouring catalogs for his offspring is my hobby and I am blessed with his mares that are sound, noble and exhibit his stature in the paddock when I visit. All horsemen follow selected horses on computer programs to watch work times and progress, or digression that follows, I watched Monzante. I watched him fall thought the claiming ranks, always thinking, surely someone was waiting to snatch him up as a loved and appreciated riding companion. I am at fault for being too consumed in my own career that I did not give him that home. On July 30th, I opened my Equibase report and my heart was broken. Frantic, I reached out to all my contacts, how in God’s name was he allowed to run at this level and this happen? Those of us, who love these animals are horrified that this champion was allowed to be numbed and run until had to be put to death. Where were the horsemen at trackside, surely not at his stall? If the vets cleared him, then what criteria and qualifications do those supposed medical professionals live by? This trainer and I dare not spit while going into this segment, stated, he numbed an eight centimeter square area in Monzante’s leg PRIOR to racing him, please tell me why? Better yet, those of you at home reading this, which of you would allow your trainer to inject a bad leg and then race your horse? If you are permitting this as owners, I am truly crushed. I grew up in Kentucky with many of you riding bareback through the back fields. It is now time to say, stop, we own the trainers, they do not own us. These horses are our companions, our friends and our heritage. We were all raised on a code of ethics, this supposed trainer and industry leach, will never understand or expect. But, Monzante did. Cynthia Kendrick
Buckpasser- Correct!
I think what EP Taylor is expressing about being sad is not that the horse will be retired, but that a nice horse ended up running in a dirt cheap claiming race.
Yes, I believe it is the same gelding. The story is not so sad really; Centennial Farms is going to take him/find him a placement for retraining.
Is that the same convication that raced in the Met mile in 2010 vs Quality Road? just sad.
Yes. Suffolk Downs and Centennial Farms both appear to have taken proper responsibility in this case.
Goblin. Sorry I missed your posting of the Suffolk Downs issue with Convocation. And to think Suffolk Downs known as Suffering Downs had more class and concern than many other tracks that have slots fueled purses and supposed better standards.
Yes, Suffolk Downs did
buckpasser, I posted the Paulick article on Convocation here yesterday. The BH article on Monzante was nauseating, as you say; you could hear violins playing as he talked about Monzante being his wife's very favorite...
On a very positive note, Suffolk Downs saw to it a horse by the name of Convocation did not suffer the same fate as Monzante as he too had a dramatic class drop. But here the powers that be were looking out and helped out. Ray Paulick has the article about it. It's a good read. Then on the other side of the ledger, you have a trainer at Mountaineer who looks like she administered something to a horse which quickly died and got rid of the evidence. There were witnesses, but no necropsy performed and she was fined a measly $1,000 for not reporting a life threatening issue with a horse. And of course we have the usual tearful oncern of the trainer with Monzante, "he was one of the family and I wanted to end his suffering." Reading the update on Bloodhorse.com about Monzante almost made me gag.
LAz. Very true. I have heard that as well. I also know of a well known trainer t Churchill Downs who offers the horses he doesn't want any more to whomever will cart them away, kill buyer, pleasure rider etc. doesn't matter. Management looks the other way. That attitude is not confined to racing, it was present in the horse show ring and I saw it first hand. Animals denied food and water on hot days to make them quiet for their owners to ride. I remember a horse in the show ring who I was interested in purchasing as an amateur hunter. My trainer told me point blank I didn't want the horse because it was a dirty stopper and the trainer used a BB gun on the horse at jumps when practicing. I well remember the horse killings for insurance money that rocked the horse show world. Top trainers, top vets, Olympic riders and wry wealthy owners were all implicated and ended up serving time, but only because an outside force got involved and that was the FBI because of what looked like a mob hit on a person turned out to be two guys taking a crow bar and breaking a horse's leg owned by Donna Brown, the wife of Olympic rider Buddy Brown.
Buckpasser I happen to know for a fact that many harness horses, when they no longer race and are not involved in breeding are euthanized by their final owners rather than having to put out money for food and lodging. They look at it like a business, like a horse is a race car and when it's no more good it's life will end in the scrap heap. I don’t know how some people can live with themselves, but apparently they have no problem with that.
Well Said Buckpasser, and unfortunately I agree that nothing will be done.
The only reason this has stayed on the radar is because of the petition through social media and twitter etc. boycotting may help, but the problem is actually deeper than that. The horses are a commodity, they don't perform out they go. I remember some years ago the trainer Johnny Campo was involved in an issue where a horse he trained ended up with a kill buyer and was on his way to slaughter. At the time the NY tracks like Aqueduct etc. had a rule for suspending trainers who sent horses to slaughter. Did they enforce this against Campo? No they rewrote the rule so you had to intentionally send the horse to slaughter yourself to be caught instead through a middleman etc. look at the winter at Aqueduct where over 20 plus horses died on te race track. Some changes were made, the biggest being the State of NY took over the NYRA. I remember the reception Joe Drape got with his NY Times article about deaths on the race tracks. Most people denied these things happened or his statistics were wrong or they only looked at Quarter horse tracks etc etc. even the flack Drape took about exposing issues with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. The sad bottom line is that little will be done until the next Monzante. The powers that be will sweep it under the table or ignore it until the issue goes away.
Count me in, kelli.quinn.
I have heard a lot of good ideas on how wastes like Monzante can be prevented in the future. But the truth is, the industry that runs the sport is just fine with the status quo. It will not change unless the fans and bettors demand it. The best way to get their attention is to hit them where it will hurt--the wallet. Would it be possible to boycott the tracks with the worst practices and records, along with their betting windows and OTBs? We could also "reward" the tracks with the better policies and more transparent reporting of things like accidents and equine and jockey deaths. Would something like that even be doable?
So in summation, Monzante survived the race, but his trainer killed him anyway. Can Monzante's story get anymore sadder and disgusting?

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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