Race of the Week 2017

10 Years ago it was Monarchos … Get Well Soon

Zipse’s 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.



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Older Comments about 10 Years ago it was Monarchos … Get Well Soon...

Hope he gets well. He's has the second fastest time in the Derby. Might have been the race of his life but still a nice feat.
While I agree with your thoughts on only two-races before the Derby, Monarchos was not one of them. Winless at two, he raced three times in Florida in 2001, before running 2nd in the Wood Memorial on his way to Louisville.
This was a significant Derby for a couple of reasons: first, Monarchos' running style got a great break from a blistering early pace that set up his "pass-em all" stretch run. But what was significant was he won the Derby off two 3YO starts. As you pointed out, Baffert gave Point Given only two 3YO starts and he couldn't finish. Of course Goint Given crushed the fields in the Preakness & Belmont, but not the Derby. Derby winners off two 3YO starts had only happened FIVE times in the previous 126 runnings. Since Monarchos, four other horses in the next ten years have done it as well. So, that's five winners in the last ten years that have won the Derby after only two 3YO starts. Old school handicappers like me think it's hard to get a horse fit in two starts to get a mile & a quarter in large fields. I don't know if the last ten years are a statistical fluke or a new age in thoroughbred racing. I'd like to hear other comments.

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