The Sun Has Set: Monsun Dies at 22

Monsun has died. On Monday, Sept. 9, at 7:00 p.m., the pillar of Gestut Schlenderhan and a bulwark of European bloodlines was put to rest at age 22 after suffering an acute neurological disease.

Bred by Gestut Isarland in 1990, Monsun did not reach the races until age 3. Racing in the colors of Baron Georg von Ullmann and trained by Heinz Jentzsch, Monsun started 17 times in his three-year turf career, winning eight races (all group stakes from 10-12 furlongs) including three group Is. A solid middle-distance performer adept on both soft and firm turf, Monsun earned more than $1.7 million.

While Monsun was an accomplished racehorse, his career as a stallion has been much more influential. Retired to Gestut Schlenderhan for the 1996 season, Monsun (Konigsstuhl—Mosella, by Surumu) carried a wealth of German bloodlines and little of the pedigree strains that had begun to saturate many of the European breeding establishments. Monsun’s pedigree was free of three of the most influential sires of the latter part of the 20th century (in U.S. pedigrees): Northern Dancer, Mr. Prospector (Raise a Native), and Bold Ruler (Nasrullah). He did, however, have 5x5 inbreeding to classic winner Nebelwerfer—Germany’s champion older male in 1949 who had won the Henckel-Rennen (2,000 Guineas) as a 3-year-old—and to the blue hen mare Kaiserwurde, through the full siblings Kaiserkrone, tail-female third dam of Konigsstuhl, and Kaiseradler, the broodmare sire of Monsun’s granddam Monasia.

Kaiserwurde, a black mare foaled in the ebb of World War II in Europe, became the ancestress of many important sires. In fact, this family dominated the German sire charts during the 1970s. In addition to her daughter Kronung, the granddam of Konigsstuhl, Kaiserkrone is the dam of Kronzeuge (by Neckar) who became leading German sire in 1972. Kaiserwurde’s son Kaiseradler, the full brother to Kaiserkrone, was leading German sire four times (1973, ’75-’77).

The family of Kaiserwurde took flight with Monsun’s sire Konigsstuhl. The first horse to win the German Triple Crown—races that range from eight furlongs (Henckel-Rennen) through 12 furlongs (Deutsches Derby) and culminates in the 14-furlong Deutsches St Leger—champion Konigsstuhl was Germany’s Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male in 1979. Three time leading sire in Germany, he set the stage for his successor son. Ironically, Konigsstuhl’s sire Dschingis Khan was much more comfortable at sprint distances and was named champion for this distance even though he stretched out enough to win the 1964 Henckel-Rennen. He was also the leading sire of juveniles from 1974-76.

Equally important to the equation is the Monsun’s female family. His dam Mosella was a daughter of six-time leading German sire Surumu, who also led the broodmare sire list 11 times, and the stakes-winning mare Monasia. A half to two other stakes winners, Mosella raced only twice at 2 and nine times at 3. Her black-type was earned in the Las Vegas Slenderella-Rennen, a middle-distance affair at Mulheim. She also won over 12 furlongs at Chantilly in France.

This is the hardy, stamina-laden family that produced Monsun, leading German sire four times (2000, ’02, ’04, ’06) and already leading broodmare sire in 2010.

As a sire, Monsun has produced offspring that come to hand late, improve as they age, and perform well over middle distances. Clues to this kind of offspring should be found in his own career. As a runner, he had an average winning distance of 11.4 furlongs and the AWD of his produce falls within that range. His 522 lifetime starters have an average distance raced figure of 10.95 furlongs and an AWD of 11.06.

Download a PDF of Monsun's stakes winners here.

Currently, Monsun has sired 108 stakes winners (14 in 2012) from 713 lifetime foals, an impressive 15% strike rate. But examining the numbers more closely reveals much more. His number of racing age foals is 660, which brings the 108 stakes winners up to 16.4%, and if the seven (his number of juvenile starters) of the current 45 2-year-olds are removed (remember his foals improve with age), the percentage of stakes winners rises to 17.4.

Let’s go one step further: Monsun has 522 starters (73% of his foals). The ration of stakes winners to starters comes in at a whopping 20.7%. Discounting the foal crop of 2010, his crops have averaged only 47 foals and only twice in 13 crops of racing age has Monsun failed to produce less than double-digit percentages of stakes winners to foals. He reached the heights with his 2003 crop with 13 from 39 foals (33%).

His outcross pedigree finds him performing well with mares from many different sire lines. Most especially Monsun as done well with Northern Dancer-line mares and specifically the Nijinsky II branch of the Northern Dancer line. At least sixteen of Monsun’s 108 stakes winners descend from the Nijinksy II (or his three-quarters relative The Minstrel), including group I winners Shirocco, Amarette, and Floriot. Sadler’s Wells-line mares also have a significant influence with Monsun; most influential among these is the Old Vic mare Sacarina who is responsible for three of Monsun’s 15 group I winners: Salve Regina, Samum, and Schiaparelli.

Eclipse Award winner Stacelita, champion grass female in 2011, represents another successful cross for Monsun that of the Mill Reef branch of the Nasrullah line. This German-bred multiple group I/grade I French classic winner is a daughter of a mare by Dashing Blade, Germany’s leading sire in 1998 and a great-grandson of Paul Mellon’s Epsom Derby-winning Horse of the Year. No less than 11 of Monsun’s stakes winners derive from the nick with Mill Reef and his descendants.

While Monsun has direct links to many sire lines, he has also done well with the female family 16-c the family of taproot mare Little Agnes, tracing to Schwarzblaurot. Among the prominent members of the Little Agnes family are Grey Dawn II, Green Dancer, Carnegie, Herbager, and Slip Anchor. Schwarzblaurot, a foal of 1947, was a great-granddaughter of Teddy out of the spectacular German mare Schwarzgold, winner of the Preis der Diana (German Oaks) and Deutsches Derby over the colts.

Given the hardiness of his runners, many more Monsuns are streaming across the race courses of Europe (three daughters are entered in the group II DFS Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster Sept. 13) and his final chapter will not be written for a number of years.

A magnificent 16.2 hand mahogany-coated horse, Monsun, though later blind in both eyes yet still strong of character, could spellbind those in his presence.

He will be sorely missed.

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