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
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
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.