Monzante's Death a Disgrace

Editor's Note:  The Blood-Horse’s editorial policy is to review the content of any blog that addresses a highly sensitive topic or legal issue. Accuracy in our editorial coverage and among our bloggers is of utmost importance to us. The blog posted below is as Steve originally wrote it. Horse welfare issues are of equal importance. Look for updates on Monzante's story on BloodHorse.com.

This blog will be short and not so sweet. Racing can provide wonderful stories, such as last week's tale of Omaha and Morton Porter, and then can come right back and kick you in the head with a story like that of Monzante's tragic demise.

That a horse like this should wind up where he did is disgraceful, and there is plenty of blame to go around. Winner of the grade I Eddie Read, second in the grade I Charlie Whittingham, and third in the grade II Strub Stakes, the son of Maria's Mon has passed through some top-class barns, such as Juddmonte, Steve Asmussen, Dale Romans, and Mike Mitchell. In his day he swam with some pretty big fishes before plunging to the depths, where he wound up with the bottom feeders as a 9-year-old.

Why was this allowed to happen? Any of his owners could have done their best to keep tabs of a horse who was so good to them and not allow him to deteriorate into what he would become and where he would wind up. But no one can be forced to monitor the whereabouts of their horses after they move on. A more conscious effort, however, would be a major step forward.

Monzante eventually wound up in the barn of Evangeline Downs owner/trainer Jackie Thacker, who had claimed him for $10,000. Thacker moved him up to $20,000 before dropping him back down to $10,000. After winning for $12,500, his form began to deteriorate. Instead of retiring the horse and trying to find a good home for him, especially one with his accomplishments, Thacker brought him back eight months later and put him in a $4,000 claiming race Evangeline without a listed work in almost two months. The comment on Equineline was a brief as it could get: "Stopped, euthanized."

So, to repeat, how was this allowed to happen? How does someone who calls himself an owner/trainer allow this to happen, especially in such sensitive times for racing, which has been under microscopic scrutiny from animal rights groups and animal lovers in general? We've all seen what public pressure can do to a TV series like "Luck." The last thing we want to hear is the usual empty comment in these cases, "He still loved to race." The fact is, Monzante either did not love to race anymore or he was too sore at his age to endure it.

How does racing defend itself against the accusations that are sure to follow? How many so-called horsemen are out there with a license to claim horses who have no regard for their safety and well being? Any horse, especially one who has given as much as Monzante, deserves a better and more humane fate.

Racing has taken some measures to prevent this from happening, but the people who own and train horses need to be more responsible, and their actions have to be monitored more closely. Incidents like this should send up warning flares, and the people to whom these horse are entrusted need to be more accountable for their actions.

No one can expect Juddmonte, Asmussen, Romans, and Mitchell to keep track of all the horses they own or train, but it is up to individuals to see disasters like this unfolding and bring them to the awareness of the racetrack and the public before they become another black eye to racing, as this incident has become. And for all the so-called horsemen who are so careless with their horses' lives, they must be required to provide answers before they are allowed to claim horses in the future.

The bottom line is that racing can be a beautiful sport—the most beautiful sport of all. But it can also be an ugly sport. Beyond the world of exotic betting and simulcasting and high-tech websites is the Thoroughbred, without whom all else is meaningless.

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