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

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.


Leave a Comment:


Amen, Steve! You have spoken the truth about these low level horses that really are the backbone of the racing industry. They are the "kings and queens" of racing and deserve great care and a wonderful life. Thank you for telling it like it is!

23 Jul 2013 9:05 AM
Nancy Magoon

An important incident that needs to be remembered. Thank you Steve for writing this and thank you Bloodhorse for printing it.

23 Jul 2013 9:08 AM
Sue MacGray

I'm so glad you've written about this Steve. I don't feel Thacker should still have been allowed to train/race. It seems that currently there's a patchwork of rules and regulations that change depending on the track/state. Severe penalties and uniform enforcement could do much to eliminate these tragedies. When I first read about this, I also read that Evangeline Downs would not 'return calls.' Some transparency and willingness to 'face the music' would also go a long way - at least then it would seem that the industry is as willing to protect the horses as they are the owners and trainers.

I love racing and I detest stories like this because so many people already have a negative impression of the sport. There have been some improvements in the past few years, especially with ottbs  and different retirement options now available for them after the track. But that still means  owners/trainers need to assist in getting them there. Unfortunately, in this case it seems like greed was the motivation - someone trying to eke the very last they could out of Monzante. Sadly, you can't enforce compassion but as you say (the many) individuals that are involved in the care of these horses should be able to work together and prevent disasters such as this. I sincerely hope Thacker has his license revoked - for good this time.

23 Jul 2013 9:33 AM

Bravo!!! Glad BH did the right thing! If those who wield the most influence in the sport can't speak out or their voice is stifled, then the sport is truly gasping for its last breath. You called it like you see it, and your words carry weight. Let's hope it's more than a voice crying in the wilderness, and that just like Ferdinand and Exceller, Monzante will be a cry for change in the way the horses at the lower rungs of the racing ladder are treated. Hope others will follow your example and will speak out, as well.

23 Jul 2013 9:46 AM
Blum Gone

Steve, could you help me rescue another Proud Warrior?  Porfido, he's still running at age 11.  You have connections.  He last ran at Canterbury, check out his EquiBase page.

Let's get him before its too late!  (I tried with Monzante, but was too late.)

23 Jul 2013 9:56 AM

Why shouldn't breeders be asked to keep track of the horses they breed?

 Why shouldn't each foal come with some money set aside for it's retirement from both the stallion and mare owner?  

Why shouldn't a portion of each purse be designated for a humane retirement for healthy horses or a humane end for those whose injuries will cause a remaining lifetime of pain?  

At what point will racing stop allowing these low level tracks to evade a comprehensive set of rules and regulations?

When will racing in the US get serious about drug testing and reform in order to protect it's athletes?

Perhaps once an investigative reporter with the respect accorded Mr. Haskin runs with this type of piece, some reform will come about.

In the meantime, racing in general should hold it's collective breath because the PETA types and animal lovers in general will start demanding federal intervention.

23 Jul 2013 10:03 AM
Blum Gone

Steve, I just did a little pedigree research and Porfido is related to Fager thru Fappiano!!!

23 Jul 2013 10:09 AM
M.E. Altieri

You are so right, Steve.  Without the horses, there IS no sport.  And the sport can't grow as long as horsemen are perceived as being cruel and uncaring toward our equine athletes. There should be a test of some sort, to determine if someone really is fit to own or train:  "How much do you love your horse?" need be the only question.  Lack of love and respect for the horses--who depend on humans for everything in Life--is the most important qualification.  It doesn't matter how many horses you've trained, or your family heritage.  If you don't love horses, and won't treat them with love to absolutely assure that they don't end up this way (or go to slaughter)--then get out of the game.  

23 Jul 2013 10:11 AM
Lynda Hernandez

Thank you for writing about Monzante's disgraceful end.  I just watched the Eddie Read stakes race and it's so sad that the winner of that race should end the way he did.  I don't know what can be done to prevent these tragedies but it might help if a percentage of all winnings or entry fees were set aside as a trust fund to provide a humane home for these beautiful horses.  At the least, standards should be provided so that if a horse hasn't been training for a certain length of time a vet should take a look at them to clear before any scheduled race.  Perhaps this is already done but we must be more diligent in the future.   RIP Monzante!

23 Jul 2013 10:24 AM
Becky Fredericks

Thank you, Steve, for once again being the voice for those who can't speak and for asking the hard questions that need to be answered. The "industry" needs to face the issues and make the changes necessary to protect the priceless Thoroughbreds who are the true heart of the "sport."  RIP Monzante!  You will NEVER be forgotten!

23 Jul 2013 10:25 AM
T Stawicki

Thank you Steve for writing on the tragic end to Monzante.  Lets hope that the public outcry over his passing can bring about positive change to prevent other horses from meeting his fate.

23 Jul 2013 10:27 AM

Steve, thank you for writing this story! I'm glad that the Bloodhorse did not censor your article!

The horses are the hero's and need to be cherished and taken care of by the humans who race, train and breed them....that's the bottom line. Thank you again Steve! Write On.......

23 Jul 2013 10:32 AM

Well said, Steve.  This is such a disgrace.  Many trainers are very caring, but this casts a shadow on all

23 Jul 2013 10:34 AM
Karen in Texas

Thank you, Steve, for honoring the glory that was once Monzante by simply telling the truth about the disgrace of his death.

23 Jul 2013 10:53 AM
steve from st louis

Steve, I hope they did bloodwork and a post-mortum on Monzante because it's likely he was forced to race on something other than hay, oats and water.

Thus, how is Thacker any different than the aforementioned Asmussen or Patrick Biancone or the disgraced Rick Dutrow, who all took advantage of the very horses they promised to protect?

We see in baseball that humans will go to any means to gain an advantage by taking performance enhancing drugs and racing is sadly part of that same extension.

Greed forces some to go to criminal means, like a Ryan Braun or, possibly in this case, a Jackie Thacker. Ban them all or pay the price. In this case, Monzante paid with his life. Now he can RIP.

23 Jul 2013 10:58 AM

No one could have said it better, Steve.  Thank you for bringing this story to light for The Bloodhorse readers.  Thank you to Bloodhorse for being bold enough to print it.  The horses need to have a voice and it is great for a writer such as yourself, who always gives us the stories of beauty about the backgrounds of these horses we love, has not shied away from this sad tale.  With sadness, I say thank you once again.  Rest in Peace, Monzante.

23 Jul 2013 10:59 AM

Animals are at the mercy of those who are trusted to care for them and many view horses as mere livestock regardless of how much money they deposit in their bank accounts. An animal's worth lies in the eyes of the beholder. Those who don't have the ability to empathize with the pain and suffering of animals, are void of humanity. The world is full of these people and unfortunately our beloved sport has it's share. I hate it, you hate it, we can't stop it. At least Monzante was euthanized and not forced to suffer like Alydar and others like him. I console myself by believing that those who show no mercy will receive no mercy.

23 Jul 2013 11:00 AM

Did I thank you for taking the time to write this? Many thanks, friend.

23 Jul 2013 11:02 AM

Steve, what is going on that you won't mention the owners names, just the trainers? Lets get real. You know that the owner is ultimately responsible and that trainers can not keep track of every horse that comes and goes from their large barns. That is up to an owner who cares or at least has some basic sense of gratitude for a horse that took them to Gr. 1 glory. It is much easier to place a well known horse in a second career as well so those owners have even less excuse to not attempt to do so. And the horse was even a gray, one more thing in his favor until he was laid down in the dirt by his last ungrateful cad of a connection.  

The names of the owners are Scott Anastasi, Jay and Gretchen Manoogian.

23 Jul 2013 11:06 AM

Bravo,Mr. Haskin, for having the courage to write this. Mozante was betrayed by humans until he died snd even afterwards as Evangeline Downs couldn't bother to return calls of inquiry about the horse.

This animal was used up and discarded. After all he did for his many connections, how tragic and how disgraceful it is that he met such a fate as he did! You were so right to wonder why this horse didn't get a very well deserved retirement. Too many people place the almighty dollar ahead of everything else, which seems to be the case here.

RIP, Mozante. You are in your Creator's hands now and humans will never betray you again.

23 Jul 2013 11:08 AM
Kimmons Mitchell

Well written and so true! Thanks for all the horses living in that Hell! This must stop as we all know and in order to do that we must get the undesirable trainer, owners out of horse racing or there will be no sport!!!!!!

23 Jul 2013 11:10 AM
James McManus

I cried when I heard the news and again when I read your piece, Steve.  I feel shame.  Some humans are not worthy to walk among the thoroughbreds.

23 Jul 2013 11:15 AM
Kimmons Mitchell

The truth will set you free!! All the facts not just part of them!!! Must get to the bottom of this tragedy!

23 Jul 2013 11:21 AM
Deirdre Boyne

Thank you, Steve, for writing this about Monzante. He deserves to be remembered, as do all of the horses who have met the same fate on the racetrack. For you to take a stand and write about this is very respectful and admirable, for you are able to face the ugly truths that come with horse racing. I thank you a thousand times over for doing this. I hope that Thacker is given some kind of punishment for what happened to Monzante.


23 Jul 2013 11:27 AM

So many people failed Monzante. His owner/trainer sealed the final betrayal and should have his license revoked. People like Thacker should not be allowed in the industry.

I won't pretend to know the rules on what it takes to get a horse to ther starting gate but I have a little horse sense. My questions may or may not be relevent.

Where was the Track Steward? The Track Vet? How was the horse even allowed to run with no recent works?

We all failed this horse by not creating better safeguards so poor trainers aren't allowed to stay in the industry.

23 Jul 2013 11:27 AM
Mary Zinke

Who at Evangeline Downs allowed this horse to run at that age off of that length of layoff and with the only recent work on June 1st?  

23 Jul 2013 11:29 AM

"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."

Excellent column, especially the paragraph I quoted above, which really gets to the heart of the entire problem.

23 Jul 2013 11:53 AM
Nucky Thompson

No point in dumping all the blame on Thacker. He's at the bottom of the food chain trying to scrape a living. The horse should never have been allowed to drop to this level. I haven't won any Grade 1 stakes but have claimed former horses I owned just to retire them and prevent the type of situation that poor Monzante found himself in. Just a pity the owners/ trainers with bigger pockets than me and with multiple Grade 1 wins did not do the same.

23 Jul 2013 11:58 AM

Thank  you Steve for lending your respected voice to publicize the state of Monzante.  It is  discouraging that certain owners and trainers have to be "shamed" into providing equitable and safe retirements/retraining arrangements for their horses but that seems to be the case.   Fans will keep monitoring these horses but can only do so much.  Thank you for taking the time to try and make right the sport that you so dearly love.    

23 Jul 2013 12:13 PM

Thank you for writing this blog. These thoroughbred athletes are depending on us to take care of them. Appreciate your efforts to help racehorses lead a good life after they leave the track.

23 Jul 2013 12:17 PM
Abigail Anderson

Thank you so much for this, Steve. Monzante needed to have your voice. Shame on the owners of this horse. Shame.

23 Jul 2013 12:38 PM
Kate the horse woman

Well said! Something does need to be done so this doesn't happen to any other horses.

23 Jul 2013 12:40 PM

I choose to remember Monzante for the champion that he was and not how he ended.

Monzante and all those that have gone before him are elevated above all to remind us that it is also our responsibility to keep vigilent at the tracks, in the barns, at the auctions and not turn a blind eye to what's happening around us.

Monzante's life should have not ended as it did for all he had done; but it is not in vain. Because there is a big grey OTTB just outside my window today who too ended up in the wrong hands. But because of a very dedicated race track mom and his sire's (Lit de Justice) people at Magali farm, he was saved from a similar fate.

There is many success stories, but the sadness of loosing far out shadows those stories and should keep all our eyes and ears open to any distress signal or red flag, and lend a helping hand.

And what do I wish for the Thackers of the horse racing world? That they will be met by Monzante and all those that have gone before, on the other side. Because it is then that true justice will be met.

23 Jul 2013 12:43 PM

Is there mandatory rule to file Death Certificate when horse dies?

It would bring answers to multiple questions that (mostly) relate to "bottom feeders" mentioned in this excellent article.

RIP, Monzante

23 Jul 2013 12:46 PM

Steve, you said it loud and clear.  Those who can have to step up and make changes to avoid these tragic ends. You always speak so well for those who cannot.  Thank you.

23 Jul 2013 1:02 PM

Thanks for this Steve, and I'm glad Bloodhorse put this back up, although it already doesn't appear on the front page and you'd have to look for it.

I hold little hope that there will be much change without National Standards. A patchwork of state regulations is almost impossible to change.

It seems there needs to be some way to force owner to look out for these horses, and not just for G1 staked winners. They get the attention, but what about all the other horses running in low-level claiming races. What would be the fall-out of putting restrictions on these. It seems it would eliminate a lot of racing and create other problems? I don't know the answer....

23 Jul 2013 1:04 PM

@Nucky, have you heard the latest?

Monzante didn't have to die. He wasn't put down on the track like we thought. He could've been salvaged. Thacker just had him euthanized by a private vet. This trainer is pathetic. This is no low level trainer trying to scrape by, this is an individual who has no business being in this sport. Threw a gelding that was no longer raceable in the garbage. He could've been in rehab at a rescue facility right now. Ferdinand drew attention to stallions, Monzante should do the same for not just geldings but horses on the track who are being used until they can't do any more. They are literally and figuratively being dumped. This has to stop.

23 Jul 2013 1:20 PM

I applaud you, Steve, for putting this out there.  These horrid deaths of horses--regardless of how many races they've won--need to stop.  There is a VERY SIMPLE START to getting this slowed down, or even stopped, but it has to involve AVMA and AAEP.  There is not a single horse that gets to the track without veterinarians. The hard knocking campaigners out there running dozens and dozens of racing, falling to the bottom of the form, are only racing because of MAJOR and UNETHICAL Veterinarian Intervention! Injecting compromised joints is what is killing these animals, and any horse who snaps a let on the track should be tested, with vet records investigated, and not only should the trainer and owner be suspended if they are found to have injected a horse within the previous 4 days, but the VETERINARIAN should have their license revoked. Revocation of livelihoods would wake up the profession that is doping these animals FOR A PROFIT and essentially killing them with trainers.  If they don't die on the track, they die when they get to groups like mine (CANTER), when their injections wear off and the horse can no longer walk. Groups like mine are left to kill them humanely for love of the almighty dollar. Owners, Trainers, and VETS are all complicit!

23 Jul 2013 1:33 PM

Thank you Steve for writing such a brilliant and poignant piece.

I just read another article about this tragic event which mentioned that the horse had been "deemed salvageable" and the trainer choose to euthanize him anyway.

Having just recently purchased/rescued another Off-Track retired Thoroughbred may I please say that there are people out here (like me) who would gladly give a loving home to a warrior like Monzante.

23 Jul 2013 1:34 PM

It is time for a standard fee to be attached to the purchase price of a horse' s initial sale that follows the horse that will pay for retraining after the horse is finished racing. It costs Second Stride $2000 to retrain a horse when it leaves the track...

23 Jul 2013 1:55 PM

Monzante gained his first-ever turf win for his American connections, including owners Scott Anastasi and Jay and Gretchen Manoogian, This was  in the Eddie Reed

23 Jul 2013 1:56 PM
Laurie Spezzano

We should care just as much about the horses who were never stakes horses - they try just as hard and are separated from the 1% by luck. I do agree that the wealthier owners and fans should kick in more to support a decent retirement for all racehorses because the little guys go broke trying to provide it (check my backyard).A severe breakdown does not always indicate a bad trainer, think of all the top horses who have met that fate. If you know someone was cruel you should do something, but don't assume the worst.

23 Jul 2013 1:58 PM
Allison Booth

Thank you for covering this topic that needs serious consideration Steve. Equine safety and welfare is a huge topic in racing today. Knowing 'WHEN’ to retire a racehorse is a life or death matter. Owners and Trainers are eternal optimists and it's difficult to give up on a horse. But since horses cannot speak for themselves, it's up to their connections to make that call. Continuing to race a non-competitive horse carries a high price for both the owner and the horse. It's not hard to determine which injuries are new and which ones have been going on for months and even years. It's easy to see the horses that have been receiving good care and those that have every bit of life wrung out of them. So when is the right time to retire a horse? The right time is before a horse is so damaged physically or mentally that it is unsuitable for a second career. Injuries are the primary reason horses leave the track. Many successful racehorses have such heart that they will run through a lot of pain. For these, one race can determine whether the horse has a future as a pleasure mount, a pasture ornament, or none at all. Erratic performance as well as paddock and gate issues can be signs that the horse is not mentally or physically able to handle the pressure. Horses have a way of telling us when they are done. It costs the same to train a cheap horse as it does a good horse. If a horse is on a downward spiral, it needs to be retired to a new career.

23 Jul 2013 2:07 PM

And now we know the real truth........Monzante was "salvageable" and the "esteemed" Jackie Thacker had him killed.  Bastard.  Hell is too good for you Mr. Thacker  See you in Heaven Monzante.

Jamie with The Fans of Barbaro

23 Jul 2013 2:07 PM

Steve, thank you so much for writing this and bringing attention to a situation that we all care so deeply about (I mean those of us that actually care about the horse's welfare).  I also thank Bloodhorse for putting this back up.  I read this last night on another site and was shocked that Bloodhorse would pull something that you wrote.  Almost made me want to stop coming to this site.  I cried when I heard of Monzante's plight and when I read your blog.  Something needs to be done to stop this from happening.  Greedy owners/trainers should no longer be able to have these horses.  Maybe if licenses were revoked and horses taken away from the owners enough times these people would think about running these horses to death.  I'm just talking from my heart, as I know this will never be done.  I love our sport, but I HATE it when this happens.  Maybe Monzante's death will bring about some change.  I hope so.  RIP Monzante.  I will never forget you.

23 Jul 2013 2:08 PM

Uniform medication and drug testing programs have been adopted in only a handful of states.  The industry needs to reclaim this story from the NY Times by adopting uniform standards in every state, now.  Whether or not uniform standards prevent a single fatal track injury, repairing a tarnished public image is a must.  Let the Maggie Mosses of the industry walk away, as threatened.  The feeling among owners and trainers that horses are chattels, to be treated as they deem fit, is an anachronism.  Monzante's story went viral and that is testimony to the fact that things must change in an industry where so much sleeze lurks at the fringe.  One more thing: after watching a tape of the race, it was obvious that the game old campaigner still loved to run.  

23 Jul 2013 2:13 PM
Nucky Thompson

JK, I had not heard that. I take it all back. Thacker is the scum at the bottom of the pond. He should never be allowed to train a horse again. As for the original US owners of Monzante,they are not much better for letting this happen

23 Jul 2013 2:16 PM
Howard da Walker

I have been saying for years the Jockey Club should require a $500 fee to register a horse. That money invested would save a lot of brave horses. When will they do it? NEVER

23 Jul 2013 2:22 PM

Look what happened to "FERDINAND"

And he ran in stakes up until he was retired to stud. So TRAGIC. Somebody at some point has to step up to the plate. These owners who like to spend the money these animals make them, need to save a little for their (Horse's)retirement.

23 Jul 2013 2:25 PM
sara futh

thank you Steve for writing this.

I would like to point out that there is an easy way for owners/breeders to ensure that their horses do not end up like Monzante.

Attaching to the papers -which stay with the horse on the track- a statement that you will provide for the horse when he can no loner race successfully, will get will back to you when that day comes.

I am a breeder who has a farm  of homebreds who will live out their days with us if they do not find alternative second careers. They were not claimed away from us, but retired (sound) when they no longer showed the desire to run.

23 Jul 2013 2:31 PM

Dear Mr. Haskins - Thank you for writing this piece about the sad ending for this wonderful warrior.  How I wish I could have claimed him BEFORE he ran.  Because of your writing ( at least in my opinion) his cause is being investigated and there are now 2 pieces in the Daily Racing Form that indicated a thorough investigation.  So far, it appears to rest squarely on the shoulders of his most recent trainer.  I also am glad to see that Bloodhorse placed your opinion back for all to see ( last night it had been pulled)  Having been to see Jeranimo in the Eddie Read this past Saturday, I was shocked and moved to tears to see what can happen to these beautiful horses to give their all for our racing pleasure.  Even more poignant is he lost his life on the anniversary of his greatest race.  I do hope something positive comes from this needless loss of life.  I know all owners and trainers don't have the means for extraordinary financial care, but this horse was not beyond saving and rehabbing for a new career or pasture pal.  He sure deserved it.  May he be the catalyst for long overdue change and improved rehoming for thoroughbreds who no longer have the ability or desire to race. Thank you for your insight and your  obituary for this fallen racehorse.

23 Jul 2013 2:31 PM

Right on, Steve! Thought and well stated, as always. Connections, especially those who profit (or tries to profit) off a horse, have moral obligation to protect current and former runners, who cannot protect themselves. (Blum Gone may want to check out the Minnesota Horse Council(, who certifies horse rescues. She could then reach out to a rescue (or more) to see if they can offer her advice re Porfido. With 66 starts & nearly $740K in earnings, he ran several G2 and G3 stakes in '09 and '10, and one in '12, descending ranks and last ran in 7.5K optional claimer. He's earned retirement, or a chance to become someone’s pleasure or sport horse if he’s still sound.

23 Jul 2013 2:40 PM
Allison Booth

Horses have a way of telling us when they are done. It costs the same to train a cheap horse as it does a good horse. If a horse is on a downward spiral, it needs to be retired to a new career.

23 Jul 2013 2:58 PM
Jeanette Jackson

Horse breeders SHOULD be required to keep track of horses they breed. I used to breed and show St. Bernards and I kept track of every puppy I ever sold. All purchasers were told that I would always take one of my dogs back no matter what. At least 5 of my pups came back to me, some because of old age, some because of illness, some because people no longer were able to care for them. If I could do this, as a private person, why can't horse breeders do this when they have access to far more resources than I have?

23 Jul 2013 3:02 PM

I don't think anyone disputes the attachment of a fee for aftercare of a Tb all along the sale/claim line.  The question is, who determines when the horse will retire to make use of those funds set aside for him? Is the answer to get rid of claiming races below a certain level? Who decides when a rung on the racing ladder is too low and a horse should be retired?

The so-called procedures at tracks like this one were all followed all along the line, as Monzante had been on a watch list, and more stringent standards were applied because of that fact.  Who is there to decide when a horse is "done"?  Apparently the owner/trainer can't be trusted to make a responsible decision.

This saga keeps getting worse and worse.  It was reported at DRF that a state vet ruled Monzante "salvageable" after a brace was put on his injured leg and sent back to Thacker's barn. The state vet said he may not have been sound enough for racing, but that he was salvageable. Thacker then directed a private vet euthanize him.

I don't question the actions of the regulators in this case as much as I do the actions by his trainer/owner, Jackie Thacker. Just revolting!

23 Jul 2013 3:07 PM
Sandy McDonald

Thank you Steve & Bloodhorse for your story on Monzante. Putting down a horse that is "salvagable" is pathetic. Especially now that there are more and more places that take horses that can no longer race or want to. After reading your story and all the replies from fans, I have tears running down my face. Come on people, lets do something for these fabulous athletes that depend on us for care and protection. Things must change, NOW. Personal thanks go out to all those folks who care for retired race horses. You are the best.

23 Jul 2013 3:25 PM

I second TurnBackTheAlarm:

"Why shouldn't breeders be asked to keep track of the horses they breed?

Why shouldn't each foal come with some money set aside for it's retirement from both the stallion and mare owner?

Why shouldn't a portion of each purse be designated for a humane retirement for healthy horses or a humane end for those whose injuries will cause a remaining lifetime of pain?

At what point will racing stop allowing these low level tracks to evade a comprehensive set of rules and regulations?

When will racing in the US get serious about drug testing and reform in order to protect it's athletes?"

23 Jul 2013 3:40 PM

I'm so mad I could spit.

For all the winners and glories of Zenyatta and Curlin and all the wonderful days racing celebrates under the Twin Spires, on the shores at Del Mar, and on the deck at Saratoga, on the other side of racing some *#$& sends an honest, hardworking gelding out to run, and when he came back injured somebody said "kill him - he's no good to me now".  I hope an investigation gets to the bottom of this and the horses in his barn are rescued and turned over to somebody who gives a damn.  Is that really so much to ask?

And that ALL tracks in the US attain the highest safety approval for everybody's sake!

How sad that we now have Monzante to add to the roll call of names like Exceller and Ferdinand, but how wonderful that so many people care about this gelding that something will be done and, like in the names of Exceller and Ferdinand, some other horses will be saved.


23 Jul 2013 3:41 PM
Soldier Course

The next time Congress decides to hold hearings on the Thoroughbred racing industry, it should summon the "connections" allowing these kinds of atrocities to happen and hold them fully and publicly accountable. With pictures. No eyewash. And leave the dogs and ponies at home.

Every time I read a story like this it sickens my heart, and well it should.  Thank you from the bottom of my aching heart.

23 Jul 2013 3:46 PM
anita b

Hello Steve,

What a sad story. Why did the track allow a horse to run without a published workout for 8 months? The track bears responsibility for this tragedy too. I am heartbroken. Anita B

23 Jul 2013 4:11 PM

I rarely comment, but I have to now. This is a total disgrace, and thank you, Steve, for writing so passionately and bluntly about it.

May Monzante's death not be in vain, but bring badly needed change to this industry.

It's so hard to be a fan in the face of stories like these. Racing is a sport that is perceived by many outsiders as horridly cruel, and it's increasingly hard to know how to answer people who ask me how I can possibly support it.

TurnBackTheAlarm, I agree with everything you wrote.

23 Jul 2013 4:12 PM
Soldier Course

Since 2005 I have won about $200 betting at Churchill Downs and Keeneland. I would have gladly seen a percentage of this withheld at the track specifically for the benefit of Thoroughbred rescue and retirement. I can't be alone in this. Even a small percentage withheld could make a tremendous difference.

23 Jul 2013 4:32 PM

As a breeder I try to follow the horses that I breed and do the best I can for them when the are no longer able to compete.  This brings us to a horse named RUDERED, a 6 year old gelding who really does not have much talent, but is as sweet as could be.  A friend of mine started a horse rescue and I told him that I would try to secure the horse.

I contacted JON COWAN the owner and trainer and asked him if I could have the horse back to give him a new home when he was retired.  JON COWAN informed me that the horse had suffered two bowed tendons but was in good shape and he, "would not run him into the ground". Two weeks later the horse is entered in someone else's name at Mountaineer.  I contacted JON COWAN and asked for the contact information if the new owners.  JON COWAN will not respond.  Rudered ran 6th this week and should be given the chance to live out his days happy and healthy.

Our industry needs to get rid of people like JON COWAN.

23 Jul 2013 4:37 PM

God bless you Steve.

23 Jul 2013 4:42 PM
John from Baltimore

Horses going to slaughter is horse racings dirty little secret.  It just dosn't like it when it get bad press.  

The real problem starts at the beginning where breeders take horse like Violence which made four starts and send them to stud.  They breed a horse that can't make 20 starts and race for more than 1 or 2 years.  Horses live for around 20 years and with such a short useful life these hoses have no where to go.  This magazine will complain about a trainer trying to get there money back when they are willing to collect advertising fees on the stallions which are the cause of this problem.

I find it revolting that you complain about this, but never about bad breeding practices because your looking for your next advertisement buck.

23 Jul 2013 4:45 PM

OMG..!!!! WAKE -Up... These Racetracks Only Care About the $$$$ MONEY...!!! have Been a BLOODSTOCK Agent since 2002 and have Saved Countless Horses Sadly Enough I Only have Bought & Accepted BroodMare Prospects... have Bought/placed over 125 Mares since Summer 2010... I was have Accepted Mares Within Days of going to Killers/Auctions Where Slaughterhouse Buyers are Like VULCHERS... Biddng on Mares... they get $1.37/LBS when they Sell to Canada Slaughterhouses.... Pray for the DAY that the Federal Govnmt Gets Serious Here...

**STAR PLUS(ARG) was a Another Example of abuse.. t Took us almost 1Yr to Finally Get Owners to Sell the Horse Back to EARLE MACK Big Name Owner-NY.... after a Horrble group bought for Stallion Duty then ran 4-5 times getting beaten by over 200 Lengths..???

23 Jul 2013 5:10 PM


Fabulous article - well said!  I, too, am thoroughly sickened and enraged about the death of Monzante.  Dear God, this poor, brave horse deserved so much better than he received in life!  Twenty years ago, Jackie Thacker was under investigation to cruelty to horses, and although it was clear he was guilty he was allowed to walk away scot free.  I hope this time around, with the unnecessary & cruel death of Monzante, a fabulous Grade 1 champion horse on his record, Jackie Thacker will not be allowed to walk a second time, but will be drummed out of the sport of horse racing forever!  Monzante should have never been allowed to fall to this level of racing to begin with, but as he did, he is now the face of this kind of tragedy, and has forced people to pay attention and take action the way so many other horses of lesser fame did not have the authority or name recognition to do.  Monzante will never be forgotten.  He will be the rallying cry to save many other horses who deserve a second chance at life away from greedy, heartless monsters like Jackie Thacker - to be retired to a good home or to go into another profession such as dresssage or any other number of new careers still open to them other than racing instead of wringing every cent out of them before destroying them simply because their heinous owners can't make another dime off of them.  

My heart just breaks for Monzante.  His life had great meaning, and his death has great meaning as well.  I was horrified to hear what his fate wound up being, and my thoughts immediately turned to other noble, champion horses who deserved far better fates than they received in life:  Alydar, Ferdinand, Exceller.   And now, Monzante is added to this heartbreaking list of horses who needlessly died because of greed, thoughtlessness & cold-heartedness.  This is a sad, sad day & I feel angry & tired right now.  I wish I had the ability to turn back the hands of time for Monzante and change the outcome of his life, but, of course, I don't have that power.  But we all have the power to make sure this evil little person, Jackie Thacker, can never commit this kind of cruelty to another horse ever again by making sure the authorities drum Jackie Thacker's sorry behind out of racing forever.

Sweet Monzante - I'm so sorry this happened to you.  Thank you for showing us your wonderful talent and great heart.  You have fans everywhere and rest assured, you will never be forgotten.  I hope we will be able to vindicate you.  You were a wonderful champion, you did a great job!  Well done, my boy, well done!  Rest in peace, Monzante.

Thank you, Steve, for speaking up on behalf of this fine horse and shining the light on his situation and those of many others like him.  Monzante deserves truth, revelation & vindication in his death.  You've given him a powerful voice to be heard by the world.  Thank you!  

23 Jul 2013 5:33 PM
donald jones

As an owner and former racing official, I hardly know where to begin. Trainers and vets like this pair should be permanently exiled from racing.  I wouldn't allow them to shovel manure.

23 Jul 2013 5:35 PM
Trina N

Dear Powerten,

I applaud your efforts as a breeder to keep track of your horses as they change ownership and to offer them a secure retirement, as you are trying to do for RUDERED.  Since RUDERED  is now at Mountaineer, perhaps you can get to his  new owner through Rosemary Williams,  the racing contact person (at least she was, last I heard). Her phone number is (800) 804-0468. Mountaineer's general phone number is (304) 387-8000. Good luck!

23 Jul 2013 5:48 PM
Trina N

Thank you, Steve, for this important blog entry and offering us a place to go on the record asking for reforms such as listed above by Turnbackthealarm.

23 Jul 2013 5:54 PM

@John from Baltimore, Horses can live a hell of a lot longer than just 20 years especially with the right care and treatment.  One famous gelding lived to be 52 years of age but the average is around 30 - 35 years.  

23 Jul 2013 6:16 PM

Thank you Steve for writing this.  I too am saddened and disturbed by this but have been trying to reserve judgement since I was not there and do not know all the facts. I will now say though after reading that he did not need to be put down - I am completely disgusted!!! I understand that in this day and age maybe the cost of saving him was prohibitive for his owner/trainer - however I did not read anywhere that ANY attempt was made to see if SOMEONE somewhere may have be able to take on his case.  In my opinion - THAT is what should have taken place at the very least.  I would also like to see some sort of process in place to force retirement on these older horses that are just being dropped down more and more....  And the Jockey Club does charge for registration so if it is not being done already -- a fee could be added to be used toward retirement.  The problem I see though is that there would be a tremendous amount of administrative work involved in making that happen and I doubt they are willing to create those additional positions and pay the salaries.  I will also say in the owner/breeders defense:  unless things have changed in recent years, it is not that easy to keep track of a horse (although I'm sure the internet makes it better now than in the 80's when I was trying it).  Here is what happened to the 80's I had a mare who I raised two foals from...a colt and a filly.  The colt, now a gelding, did make it to the races and although he was never a stakes winner, he did win a fair amount of races and I was able to go watch him run a few times when he was 3 (even though the track he was running at was not close by).  I met his owners in the winners circle when he won his first race as a 3 year old - by this time the people I had sold him to that were friends of mine (the husband was a trainer and they were breeders) had sold him without notifying me hence the end of our friendship.  I gave his owners my contact information but they did not give me theirs.  As time went by I saw in the paper that he changed owners several times and eventually his name stopped appearing in the entries when he was 6 years old.  I called the track where I last knew he raced but they refused to give me any info.  I then called the Jockey Club and even though I could prove I was his breeder, they also refused to give me any info as to who his last owner was.  So, even though it was my intention to buy him back if I possibly could, nobody would help me locate him.  I never found out what happened to him and it makes me very sad to this day!  His sister became my riding horse and when I could no longer keep her, she became a show horse for a horse crazy teenage girl.  I kept in touch with the girl until she sold her about 9 years ago - unfortunately I could not afford to buy her back at that time as she wanted now 5 times what I sold her for - and she did not tell me who she sold her to.  Another sadness for me...  If they are still out there they are 26 and 27 years old now.  :-(  

23 Jul 2013 6:16 PM
Love 'em all

Thanks to Steve Haskin and Ray Paulick ...

Suffolk Downs, Connections do 'The Right Thing' for Seven-Year-Old Gelding

>“The safety issue begins with vigilance. You need the right attitude to do the right thing. It’s never going to be perfect because of the nature of the sport, but you’ve got to do everything you can possibly. What happened to that horse at Evangeline Downs, it’s sad. Grade 1 winners are the royalty of the sport.”<  [Sam Elliott of Suffolk Downs]

23 Jul 2013 6:32 PM

I agree with Turnbackthealarm.  It has always seemed to me that ALL of the people who have owned the horse or caused it to come into existence in the first place by breeding it, share some responsibility for what ends up happening to it.

A gelding who used to compete at the highest levels who can only compete in claimers - I think most horse owners are sophisticated enough to see the writing on the wall.  There's really nowhere good for that gelding to end up, unless an already-overextended horse rescue agency steps in to try to mop up the mess they had no hand in creating.

There are many things that could be done to try to safeguard the futures of competing racehorses.  One simple thing would be to require all registered Thoroughbreds to have not only a tattoo, but also a microchip implanted.  Both would be required to be registered with the contact information for all previous owners and the breeder.  If a current owner wants to euthanize the horse or sell it at a "kill" auction, unless the euthanasia must be performed immediately for humane reasons on the opinion of two independent vets, all previous owners must be contacted and given the chance to buy the horse back.  If they are unreachable, they incur a fine that goes toward the care of other retiring racehorses and that will prevent them from participating in the sport until it is paid.

It wouldn't be a bad idea for previous owners to be contacted by a Thoroughbred advocate at the individual tracks if it's noticed that a horse that once earned a lot of money is on the verge of becoming another sad statistic.

The NTRA could station inspectors at those auctions known to be "kill" auctions to check for these horses, and the USDA vets could scan the microchips and check the tattoos of Thoroughbreds arriving at slaughterhouses and treat them accordingly.

All of this fuss would probably make Thoroughbreds a lot less popular among horsemeat buyers, and the same could be done for Quarter Horses and Arabians.

I realize this would be cumbersome, but I think it would go a long way to preventing future tragic losses.  Not only would many owners who have lost track of their former horses probably be glad to rescue them, but others would likely be nudged to do the right thing knowing that it would be recorded that they had been given a chance to save the horse, but didn't.

Great article, Steve.  I agree with everything, except this phrase: "No one can expect Juddmonte, Asmussen, Romans, and Mitchell to keep track of all the horses they own or train".  I concede it would make their lives more cumbersome, but on the other hand, these owners and trainers expect their horses to put their lives on the line every single time they set hoof on the racetrack.  It is taken entirely for granted.  Any large-scale operation should have the resources and willingness to do this, or else they shouldn't be in this sport.  If an operation that has plenty of money doesn't have the interest to do this, how can we expect the "bottom feeders" who are usually completely strapped for cash do better than them?

23 Jul 2013 6:33 PM

Thanks Steve, sad but important blog. There are too many Monzante out there. If we don't do something to stop this, the animal rights folks will. I was following a horse called Unbridled Danger, who started 100 times. I heard that a retirement group was following him, but I lost track of him and sadly, I am not sure if he had a happy ending that a he truly deserved. If anyone has any knowledge of this wonderful son of Unbridled Song, please post it. Thanks

23 Jul 2013 7:24 PM
A Horsey Canuck

I know that my voice is just one of many, but I simply had to add it to so many wonderful comments and tributes to Monzante. Both the owners and the trainer should not be allowed to own or train any horse for the rest of their natural lives. These horses give their all and do not deserve to be treated with such disrespect and disregard as was Monzante. I hope that someone can now find and rescue Porfido. Thank you Steve and Bloodhorse for having the courage to carry this story, no holds barred, to express your dedication to these amazing thoroughbreds. Let's get rid of owners like Scott Anastasi, Jay and Gretchen Manoogian and trainers like Jackie Thacker, if they indeed allowed this avoidable tragedy to happen. Bravo to you, Steve, for keeping this incident alive. We do so appreciate you and your undying love for ALL thoroughbreds, from low claimers to pricey runners at the highest levels. Lets hear from people like Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert, Shug and owners like Mike Repole, Barbara Banke, Jerry and Ann Moss, to name a few.

23 Jul 2013 7:31 PM

All this fury about the death of one horse, and that death being due to humane euthanasia. I'd say the horse is lucky he was humanely put down. A lot of other horses at the tracks that can't run fast enough to win are simply packed off to auction and wind up on a meat hook in Canada or Mexico. While Monzante's death might have been arbitrary and he might have been saved if enough money were spent to patch him up, it seems like every time I read another article against horse slaughter the author always says, well, if they can't keep the horse (or treat the horse, or save the horse) the horse deserves a humane death and should be euthanized by a vet. Which is exactly what Monzante's trainer/owner opted to do. And, like it or not, that is not illegal. So until all the bambi-huggers out there can come up with a sensible method of taking all these old equine warriors off the track and paying for their upkeep and placement, give the trainer credit for at least giving the horse a quick and humane end rather than sending him to slaughter like so many other trainers these days still do.

23 Jul 2013 7:38 PM


Do you have Lit'sgoodlookngray? Love that like guy like Pettrax and Item Two before him.  Wow.

23 Jul 2013 7:48 PM
Junie Wise

THe Bottom Line on this is just one thing"THE MONEY"....Every one Talks about How Sad this kind of stuff is,But No One wants to HELP Pay for it!!!!!!!

I wonder what it would take for Race Tracks to Have A Donation Box set up when you Walk in or when you leave  to Help Retired Horses.......maybe some day.

It could Happen if a Couple of BIG NAME Owners & Trainers got behind it......maybe some day.

When Saratoga has a "Give-A-Way" how many people go thru the Gates a couple of times just to get a Hat or T-Shirt.....Same thing could happen to HELP Save Retired Horses.....maybe some day

23 Jul 2013 7:58 PM

Thanks Steve for addressing such an important issue in a courageous and down-to-earth manner.  The powers-to-be may not listen to an average fan, but collectively we can and do support your efforts.

23 Jul 2013 8:10 PM

This is a noble gesture that needs to be made. Scanning the comments I've seen names like Monzante, Porfido, Exceller, and Ferdinand. I fear, however, that even if headway is made to save champions such as these, so many more work-a-day horses will still be forgotten (e.g., Daniella Roth, Nana Beach ...)

23 Jul 2013 8:19 PM


Remember, you mentioned a horse named Matto Mondo, who ran 3rd in the 2010 SA Hcp? He was running at Zia Park for $5000. He was claimed by Dallas Keen and has flourished, winning his last optional claiming race, protected. He just posted a 3rd best 5 furlong work at Del Mar in 59 and some change. I sent Mrs. Keen an impassioned email, asking if Matto Mondo has to be dropped in class again, could he instead go into her rescue re-training program (Remember Me Rescue ). I hope his owners will do this, and see fit to allow him a chance at a long life. He is nine years old.

23 Jul 2013 9:07 PM

I too am disgusted with this whole Monzante thing.  Not sure how this happens or why.  I love horse racing so much but this kind of story is so disturbing.  I own Quarter Horses, not racing or show horse, just "fun" horses for pets.  They are registered, but not worth alot.  I recently had a 14 year old horse (not old at all) colic.  He was born on my husband and mines wedding day.  We spent 2 days trying to save his life but to no avail.  He went into seizures and had to be euthinized.  On the open market he was not worth more than probably $500.00 as HE was not registered.  We spent well over what he was worth to save his life, it just didn't work.  How does a Grade 1 winner deserve less???  Monzantes trainer should be banned for life!!!

23 Jul 2013 9:12 PM

This is heartbreaking.  Thank you, Steve, and Bloodhorse for taking a stand on the side of the Thoroughbred. Your voice is a powerful one and it takes courage to speak so openly about the underbelly of a sport we all love.  The anger and sadness of all the voices in this blog are powerful and it lifts my heart a bit to hear you all.  Now, we need to challenge the powerhouses of racing, all the big owners, breeders and trainers that we have been reading about in Bloodhorse all spring.  Speak up! Speak loudly! Show that you care for ALL of these magnificent animals that are the reason for racing. Then, DO SOMETHING!

23 Jul 2013 9:12 PM

Is there some way we can help Blum Gone save Perfido?

23 Jul 2013 9:21 PM

Thanks Steve for bringing attention to the tragic story of Monzante.  He should have been retired with dignity and health. So many of my horse friends are done with racing - they don't go to Del Mar for a fun day with friends anymore. They are disgusted by the number of the poor conditioned Thoroughbreds, who end up at the Saturday night auctions here in California. And I must say as much as I love Thoroughbreds and the excitement of racing, I am sadly turning away from the sport, too,  because of the trainers with drug suspensions, the owners who don't take care of or find homes for their retired horses and in the case of Monzante and others, race them until the bitter end.  I hope racing can find a compassionate, ethical compass and realize that their is no sport without the care and the health of the horse the first priority at all levels or racing.

23 Jul 2013 9:32 PM

Anybody doing anything about Porfido ?

Anyone looking into that , would love to hear about one that maybe we could help out as a community.

23 Jul 2013 9:38 PM
Mary Adkins

Steve I think it is great that you have a heart but let's face it, there are horses racing all over the country daily that are in the same situation but are never mentioned. How about Still Smoldering, a 12 year old gelding that has 123 start running at Beulah Park? While it is tragic that this horse is now lost, it is wonderful that his connections did simply ship him off to slaughter as we see many injured older horses facing all of the time. How was this horse any different then 50% of the horses running at Beulah Park tomorrow or any other lower end track?

It is ironic to me that when a horse has won a grade 1 and has some top racing trainers and owners in their past careers that so many are quick to care and judge his current connections. But on any given day I can give you the name of a few dozen horses that are in bad situations in this country and many times facing a slaughter situation if they are not picked up by someone that can give them a home and yet THIS IS WHAT MAKES A TOP STORY?

If the racing industry wants to fix this situation and everyone is so upset about it, then how about getting rid of 4000.00 claimers all together?

This level of racing can be a sad and tragic one. Many times people that train and race horses at this level are barely able to pay for hay to feed the horses. Clearly they are not in a situation where they can afford to save a horse that has been injured badly. Even if they had done so, there are FEW rescues that are willing to take them into a sanctuary situation when space is always limited. We have seen this time and time again. Sure, once a horse makes a headline, then maybe people are fast to step up but until then, out of sight and out of mind!  

May this dear boy RIP, NOW try to find a solution to the real problems that horses face DAILY and  worry about the horses that don't have well known previous connections or have ran in some grade 1 race.  

Thanks for hearing me out! I still love and admire your work Steve!

23 Jul 2013 9:39 PM
Paula Higgins

Atrocious. Besides the trainer, the vet is repsonsible as well. No vet should agree to put down a horse that can be treated. It should literally be a criminal  and professional offense with forfeiture of the license of the trainer and vet-permanently. Then I would love to send them to prison for a year or two. The owner should no longer be able to race horses. If every vet refused to put a treatable horse down, the trainers and owners would be forced to take care of their horses. If a horse really needs to be euthanized right after a breakdown, everyone knows it when they see it. I don't think these are Draconian ideas at all. This is a type of animal abuse that is intolerable. Steve, thank you for addressing this. A great column and everyone who loves horses appreciates it. Why don't more people have your courage and why won't the industry address these issues in a definitive manner? If they did, maybe the sport wouldn't be losing their fanbase.

23 Jul 2013 9:39 PM

The demise of Monzante disturbs me as much as the 7 sudden horse deaths in Cali, under one trainers care, within a two year period.  Only one writer that I know of has the stones to get in front of that story.  I want the truth!

23 Jul 2013 9:40 PM
Mary McLeod

Dear Steve,

I have long admired your essays.Thank you for your well chosen subjects and words.

Thank you for your courage in writing about the despicable death of Monzante. The lies, the cruelty, and the callousness are, unfortunately, too true of humans. Our horse do all we ask of them. What is their fate? Too often an end that makes most of us cringe.

Thank you, BloodHorse for your courage in publishing this essay. I realize times are hard and publications have gone under. I greatly admire you now.

Keep up the GREAT work. Some of us are trying to save G Ten, son of Giacomo, from the spiral of claiming. Don't you think there is someone who could let us know about the horses in danger? I would have given Monzante a home for the sheer pleasure of watching him day to day.

Take care,

Mary in Boone

23 Jul 2013 9:41 PM

This is a travesty. How can this happen? The owner and trainer should not be allowed to even own any more horses! How a horse can go from some of the highest levels of racing to this is beyond belief.

Someone connected to this horse should be accountable!

I think there should be a person, farm or some organization listed as the entity who has the final right to a horse to take it under its care, if the owner can't afford or is unwilling to take care of the horse, on the horse's papers.

A very sad and disgusting story!!!!

The owner , trainer, and vet should be seriously punished and thrown out of the sport!

23 Jul 2013 10:15 PM

Dear Steve,

Thank you for speaking out loudly and clearly on a subject that needs to be addressed.  Too many horses with trainers or owners that don't care about anything other than the bottom line.  

When will the owners, trainers and HRB's take a stand and plan for the retirement of EVERY race horse, no matter whether they are graded stakes winners or lowly claimers? Bettors too, should realize that those very horses they are spending money on, DESERVE a dignified retirement.  So, how do we go about it?  Maybe we need to implement a national horse racing retirement clause into the stud fee, the sale prices, the purses for every breeding, sale, and purse won.  If we can financially provide for a retirement program for every horse, perhaps trainers won't elect to euthanize a horse that could have been saved

23 Jul 2013 10:33 PM
Sue MacGray

@Equipoise.... Since Monzante was euthanized at his barn (Thacker hired a private vet to do so) after he had been deemed salvageable by a track vet - at least in this case - the owner/trainer might have at least tried to find a home for him, but this was not done. In addition, Thacker was charged with animal cruelty in 1990 (horses were found starving/emaciated on his property). He kept his license because they were either not Thoroughbreds or he wasn't racing them. So, I guess my main question at this point is how could someone who treated horses like this be granted a license to train them? Or even keep his license?? Frankly, that just doesn't pass the common sense test.

23 Jul 2013 11:01 PM

Maybe I'm too naive, but I had this thought...

I don't know if this would even be feasible, but what if there was a national retirement foundation started with a clause that put a % on every stud fee, every sale price, every purse, and those fees would be banked to provide for the retirement of any horse that has ever set foot on a track, whether they're winners or losers.  Think about it, everytime Bernardini covers a mare, at 10% fee on his stud fee would be 15,000.00.  At 100 mares covered, Bernardini alone, would contribute 1,500,000.00.  Now, add in all those other stallions.  Then, lets talk about the multimillion sales ring prices... same thing... HDG sold for 10,000,000... 10% of that is 1,000,000 ... get the picture?   When a horse retires, he is given a set amount to go to whatever rescue or retirement/rehoming facility (must be a 501(c)3) .... it's a thought at least...

23 Jul 2013 11:38 PM

Thank you for your courage Mr. Haskin in giving a voice to and for those equines who cannot speak for themselves.

23 Jul 2013 11:39 PM
Lammtarra's Arc


Thank you for writing this blog. But in all honesty, I was hoping to hear more about the low level claimers also, the horses with no faces.  How many thousnads of them get run into the ground, and/or sent off to auction for meat each year.  What ever came of the the meat wagons pulling into Charlestown, or Mountaineer to pick up broken down race horses, or horses not fast enough even for the bottom tag levels. Who trainers allow to pick up and send off to New Holland auction and so forth. I love this sport but I hate it also simply because of the unethical behaviour by MANY in the industry.  What ever happened to the ex racer mare who was owned by the Assmussen family who sent her to a livestock auction 1 year or so again.  She was owned by IEAH stables, also I believe(or that could have been a seperate case), why has nobody been held accountable?, because the name Assmussen carries weight in the game?.....You definatly appreciate the TRUE horseman who can train and run horses at 7-8-9-10 years of age and retire the sound, like currently a Roger Attfield,or previously like a  Jimmy Jones, or Lefty Nickerson.  Wonderful horsemen who could keep their horses sound and run them for quite a while.  

24 Jul 2013 12:13 AM

Well stated Steve.  Monzante's death is a travesty.  This entire "claiming level" of racing looks like it needs much scrutiny and monitoring.  How was Monzante even allowed to race after being off for what was it eight months without a proper work in him?  It's not unlike the Aqueduct deaths at the same claiming level whereby pain was being masked and horses who had no business running, were and breaking down at alarming rates.

Horse first mentality has to happen on all levels.  And apparently state laws are lax in some states, and again no uniformity in rules or regulations.  Apparently Lousiana is lax, for wasn't it the same state, albeit a different track, where TigerEyed gave birth while in training!!!  

If anyone is purchasing a horse on any level they should be somewhat responsible for it's future and even begin a retirement fund for the animal.  These beautiful creatures are bought and sold commodities, but somewhere they have to begin to be thought of as God's living and breathing creature who deserve a level of respect no matter what running level they participate in.  RIP Monzante.

24 Jul 2013 12:15 AM
Needler in Virginia

equipoise and Mary Adkins, I feel myself trapped. While I've been (literally) horse crazy since birth, and I love all the romance of the horse, the look, the sound, the emotion, AND I'm sickened by this sort of death of ANY horse, I have a BIG problem. I'm sadly a bit practical and must agree with both of you WHOLEHEARTEDLY. Were it not for the breeding of far too many Thoroughbreds each and every year, there would be far fewer deaths like that of Monzante (I'll get back to this in a second). "Yeah, yeah, but claimers are the foundation of most tracks and keep the doors open" I hear some say. In this  case, were there no place at ANY track for this scumbucket trainer, Monzante might have been spotted by a rescue operation and saved. There is a place for claiming races and there IS a place for OTTB's as well. (Now I'm back on point, I hope) The enormous over-population of TB's is the problem. The majority of TB's NEVER race at all. There simply is NO place for all those horses already on the ground, never mind the thousands that are bred every year ...........and their numbers just keep on growing. What on Earth can we  do with all these horses? While I loathe the bastard that had this horse euthanized (the trainer in his greed and his trash bag existence), it is slightly possible that he saved Monzante from a far more gruesome trip on a kill truck to a slaughterhouse. I DO NOT applaud his actions, and am NOT willing to cut him any slack; all I'm willing to grant is that Monzante might have suffered far more than he did........

Besides the obvious problems of no drugs, more oversight, more responsible breeders who had these lovely creatures bred and foaled and then sold 'em and moved on to the next stallion flavor of the month, tracks that have uniform rules and actually enforce them (probably NOT Evangeline), and the other many and confusing issues racing has in the 21st Century, why nor add one more to deal with? How about limiting a stallion's book? EVERY STALLIONS BOOK! This would serve many purposes: among them fewer TB's to re-home after they fail at the track. Second, price of foals will go up, thus making breeders incredibly happy. Third, stallions that are bred after they win one starter allowance and retire to stud will be sorted out and the best producing stallions will remain standing., there fore getting the best to breed to and culling the not-so-best. And YUP, I'm suggesting the gallop to greed is hurting the breed inevitably and irretrievably. Someone has to pay attention sometime somehow to the failing integrity of the industry, and that starts with the folks who create baby horses.

In a perfect world, Monzante would have been retired to an OTTB re-homing program and he most likely would have moved on to be a lovely pasture ornament who got to go trail riding or jumping in fun shows on the weekends. This is NOT a perfect world, so until we can see that people will do the right thing (big joke, THAT ONE!) someone has to make people treat animals right. There are laws that govern how people treat other people, and there ARE animal cruelty laws. Now's the time to really start enforcing them; running this horse at this time, under these circumstances is animal cruelty.

So after all my kerfuffle, I'm still torn about this. I hate the trainer and the track that allowed this, never mind the vet who actually put the horse down. At the same time, I hate even more the people who allowed this to happen by their sheer indifference. See my problem?? Emotional? Practical? Why can't I be both? Does ANYONE have any suggestions for help? Other than long term therapy, that is .........

Cheers to most, and safe trips for all the horses.

24 Jul 2013 12:26 AM
Susan from VA

Tragedies like this should not be happening at this point in time.  Maybe there is currently no thoroughbred "social security" system, but the trainer/owner could have tried to find a home for this gelding.  Heck, I would have taken him to use as a Grade I-winning pasture ornament!

24 Jul 2013 1:45 AM

Steve, thank you for  drawing attention to what can happen to a wonderful competitor - Grade 1 winner no less. Simply appalling, it shames racing.

Racing authorities et all who collect revenue from horse racing should ensure that their money spinners are cared for in retirement and during racing.

It's tragedies like this that make me wonder if I can support this 'sport' any longer.

24 Jul 2013 3:25 AM


 Your last paragraph about racing is so true. It can be an ugly sport. We know this, yet owners, trainers, tracks, etc... keep proving to be careless and cold hearted towards the stars of the show themselves,the horses.  

If these owners/trainers put their horses in stable mail, not hard to do, they could keep track of their breeding or former charges. That is what Centennial was doing and how they found Convocation. My feeling is,if you can bring a horse into the winners circle all proud and mighty, why can't you bring them to a safe place upon the end of their career? Is that too hard to ask? Now reading that Monzante could have been saved, just makes this "mess" even more horrific.

I try to pressure new people who are going into partnerships to make sure their charges are taken care of but they are not into the game for the love of the horse, they are into it for the love of the money. I have rescued a racehorse and yes, it cost a lot of money and time to accomplish my goal. Trainers and owners, in some cases, can be heartless when it comes to these rescues. My savings went towards this rescue. I had no clue what I was up against. Therefore, I can put pressure on people but not all in this business feel "the love". They are a commodity, an animal, and expendable. This is where this sport continues to be ugly.  

Have people forgotten the Asmussen mares from last summer already? Have they forgotten Ferdinand,Exceller? The list goes on. How many more stories like this one dealing with Monzante, will be repeated, only with a different star, yet again?

24 Jul 2013 6:03 AM
Blum Gone

Per a comments above, I have today, July 24, contacted the MN TB horse rescue in Salvage, MN.  (I am not at all familiar with the geography of MN, so I'm unsure whether Salvage is near Canterbury)  I am now waiting for a response from this person re: saving Porfido.

All those who want to take ACTION vs. bemoaning an unnecessary death, please visit my FB page.  We can get this done!  Obviously, funds will be needed for possible purchase of Porfido and transport, hopefully to the rescue I contacted.

Rockin' Horse Retirement, FL

24 Jul 2013 8:06 AM

We are not going to let his rest, we want some action.  Our group is going to start monitoring horses who appear to be deemed "unsafe". On Twitter, we joined a group called Project Monzante. I encourage you fans to please join also. Since we found out Monzante could have been saved, it made this all the more horrific.

Pat Diers

24 Jul 2013 8:07 AM
Blum Gone

In the past, I have helped return two TBs to their breeders. (Winding Oaks, Ocala and Northern Dancer's breeder (out of business now) in Canada.)  However, as evidenced by this EquiBase page, I assume Porfido's breeder will not be assisting.

24 Jul 2013 8:08 AM

As heartbreaking as this was, they could've opted to send Monzante to the slaughter house for a few stinking bucks. However,the lesser of two evils don't make it acceptable. Horse slaughter sickens me, I'm a horse lover. What the government is doing to wild horses makes my blood boil. It's nothing short of torture. We should be mad about Monzante and all the other horses who get screwed in this sport. Horse racing is a great sport with a rich beautiful history. As fans we should demand that our equine heroes be treated well regardless of what level they run on. We need to be advocates for all horses. There aren't enough places to send unwanted race horses to for retirement. Everyone knows that's the heart of the problem. A problem not easily solved. Open your wallet and donate, support non profit horse rescues. That's the most we can do. Even then, we can't save them all. I wish we could.

24 Jul 2013 8:37 AM

Like everyone I applaud this article and the Bloodhorse, and I am greatly saddened by the story. I am a retired social worker who lives on a fixed income of about $20,000 a year and I manage to care for 4 retired Thoroughbreds. Some of the owners of TBs in racing throw away more than that on a dinner. Of course many step up and do the right thing, but many many owners are just in it for the money. If all the stallion owners at one farm like Lane's end donated just one breeding fee per year to programs to provide after care, think how far that would go. The industry depends on the low level horses, but the folks at the top need to support them so they can have the fame and fortune that comes with owning a Grade I winner. I used to rescue TBs fro a local auction that got many horses from Fairmount Park and I applaud that track's efforts to prevent horses from going to slaughter (I haven't seen any horses right off the track at the auction for quite a while). My TBs are trail horses, and it will help place OTTBs if they can be marketed as good all around horses. A lot of people think they are only good for being high dollar dressage or jumping horses and that they are not for folks who just want a good horse to ride. The article the Bloodhorse did on OTTBs being used as ranch horses was great! It is great to have a magazine such as the Bloodhorse that truly seems to care about the well being of the horses. And enough good things can never be said about Mr. Haskin.

24 Jul 2013 9:06 AM

Thank you for speaking out on the death of Monzante and for other horses like him. The geldings seem to have the most precarious of futures. Although I appreciate the chance to see them run for more years than the horses retired to stud, I have wondered what happens to them later. I hope some good comes from your article.

24 Jul 2013 10:00 AM

Please, everyone go and sign the petition to comment about this atrocity and work to prevent such horrible things from happening in the future!

24 Jul 2013 10:05 AM

Two more things -

I understand what folks are saying "what's all the kerfuffle about 1 horse?"  (and how often do we get to use that word?)  But this isn't about 1 horse, it's about Monzante being the tip of an iceberg.  Racing is a wonderful sport, but the bottom of the iceberg is dirty.  Because people got upset and motivated by Ferdinand and Exceller great retirement homes opened up for single horses and large groups.  We can only rescue 1 horse at a time, but if 10 of us helped rescue or home 1 horse each, then that's 10 less disasters.  Remember - if you rescue a horse, it doesn't change the whole world, but it does change the whole world for that horse!

The 2nd thing - if you don't know of a nearby rescue group, use your favorite search engine to find one.  Send them $5 or $10 or whatever.  Believe me, every $$ helps, and while we can't all buy claimers or provide pastures and care, but we can make life easier for the folks who can.

24 Jul 2013 10:18 AM

OOPS! Excuse my typos in my previous comment - I meant to say: that THERE is no sport without the care and health of the horse the first priority at all levels OF racing.

24 Jul 2013 12:19 PM

@Needler in Virginia - well said.  There needs to be responsibility beginning at the top most level - in the stallion barn.  With 25,000 - 30,000 Thoroughbreds foaled each year, what is the percentage that ends up with any ability on the track? There are many layers to go through to help these horses - from the beginning.

24 Jul 2013 12:48 PM

What a sad story for a fabulous horse who always gave it his best.  How can you decide that because a horse may never be able to compete in a race again  and line your bank account, that he is of no worth.  The trainer here is of no worth.  What about the horse Monzante was coupled with?  A 10 year old on his 73 race??  HELLO???  He came last.  I hope this trainer will have the horses removed from his so called "care" and have his licence taken away.  Despicable human being.  Hopes he rots in hell one day.

24 Jul 2013 12:51 PM
Fred and Joan

Steve we hardly know where to begin to comment. As small breeders in Oregon we have seen firsthand and exercised thoroughbreds who were seriously compromised physically and shouldn't have been galloped on the track, let alone raced! There are MANY rules and regulations in racing in our state but on less they are enforced and followed serious injuries to horses and riders will continue. We have been in the situation of having to put a young horse down to a $10,000 injury that we just couldn't afford to take on. We also try to follow our horses careers but is very difficult at times even with good internet access which we had to wait 13 years for. Sadly many horse people have no problems with racing a horse SORE, we don't work well when we are sore, so how can you expect an equine athlete to do its best when tired and hurting. We have galloped horses on the track that couldn't walk sound but remarkably could still gallop on the track! As regards to claiming level restrictions or limits it really isn't important what level a horse is racing at, all races can be exciting to watch as long as the horses feel good and are willing participants. Our farms first stallion was a RESCUE as well as our first broodmare. They had a colt which we sold at very low cost in California. That colt went on, with the aid of many people, to win at Del Mar in 2010.He was a 69 to 1 longshot that won by a whisker! My point is there are many good people out there that will still help give a horse a chance to succeed and we need to encourage that in an economic means. Fred and Joan.

24 Jul 2013 1:14 PM

i personally favor avoiding an internet lynching until all the facts are known.

24 Jul 2013 1:48 PM

Thank you, Steve, for honoring the memory of Monzante by telling the truth about the disgrace of his death.

24 Jul 2013 2:03 PM

Sadly we can't legislate compassion, but we can have many eyes looking out for vulnerable animals. As a very small breeder every horse I sold was given a letter to be attached to the horse's registration paper that stated if at any time this horse was not able to be used or suffered any injury I would purchase the horse back so he or she could live out their days in comfort at my farm. I agree it should fall on the breeders, owners, trainers and the industry to assure each horse a dignified


24 Jul 2013 2:33 PM

Thankyou Steve for this blog. It needs to be said, and answers need to be found. This is hardly the "Sport of Kings", when things like this happen it becomes the "Sport of Scumbags". The claiming system makes it too easy for someone to dump a horse and wipe themselves clean of any responsibilties for that horse in the future. Especially in the case of a grade 1 winning horse, we need a system that will kick back responsilblity to previous owners for the future care and protection of the horse if he found to be unsound for racing. People! wake up! don't expect the bottom feeders to do right by these horses!

24 Jul 2013 2:38 PM
dylan williams

The many comments are a testament to the importance of these issues whether it is a case of neglect, greed, drugs, over-zealousness, ego driven mania, lack of resources and governors available to help mitigate similar situations and so-on & so-forth.  In the end Steve has brought to the surface an important issue whether it has Monzante's name attached to it or not. Part of the governance lies with the tracks themselves and putting best practices to work to help stop this situation from continuing. Where was Evangeline Downs authorities before, during & after this happened? I am sure there is more to the Monzante's story ...but now that isn't the point is it?  We have seen Megan's Law come about from tragedy. We are witnessing a back-lash from the Tryvone case in Florida; our responsibility as 'horsemen' is to help right size and find several solutions -

Thanks Steve for bringing the travesty of our communities internal weaknesses into the light and focus.

24 Jul 2013 2:48 PM
Barbara W

Those of us who truly love the horses, Steve, cannot thank you enough for helping to expose this ugly, tragedy. The day of sweeping these occurrences under the rug should come to an end, thanks in part to social media. The time for retirement funds for race horses is long past. The time to force change is now, or there will sooner or later be no more fans to cheer in the stands.

24 Jul 2013 2:54 PM

How do you pay for the continued care of these marvelous animals when they reach their retirement? Easy, you take 1% of every dollar wagered at every track and send it to a fund for that purpose. they deserve it more than where the money goes now. Without them, there is no racing, it seems like little to ask for the major contributor to this sport, that put their lives on the line everytime they hit the track.

24 Jul 2013 3:19 PM
Soldier Course


Telling the truth is not a lynching. The Blood-Horse stands behind Steve's report and vouches for its accuracy. The preface to this article is extraordinary. It certainly got my attention.

I doubt that this story will get better if we "wait until all the facts are known". It might get worse.

24 Jul 2013 3:48 PM
Mike Relva


You never fail to step up to the plate.Thanks especially for this latest blog.

24 Jul 2013 4:01 PM

This is so sad.  I don't want to think that people can be so insensitive to these beautiful and wonderful horses, but I know it is so.  Money to them is much more important than living, breathing and feeling horses.  Horses are only things to make money with.

Please continue to expose these greedy people so that we don't have to continue to read stories like this.

24 Jul 2013 4:21 PM
Soldier Course

If 1% of bets wagered on this year's Kentucky Derby were withheld for a Thoroughbred retirement fund, the amount generated would have been $1,350,000. That's from just one race. Think about the possibilities if this could be done for all wagering across the board.

The fund could be named the Justa Bob Fund, for that unforgettable Thoroughbred character in Jane Smiley's "Horse Heaven".  Justa Bob almost fell through the cracks, but didn't, thanks to a compassionate and determined


24 Jul 2013 4:57 PM
Ida Lee

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times...horseracing is not for the weak of heart. The highs are wonderful but the lows...well, the death of Monzante is a perfect example of how low it can get. On the other hand, we have the great Champion St Nicholas Abbey fighting for his life at this very moment but surrounded by people who love him and are doing everything they can to save him. Let's pray that this great equine athlete makes it through this nightmare.

24 Jul 2013 7:56 PM
Scott's Rail

What gives me hope is the 125+ comments that came across this blog.   Many of the signatures were somewhat new to me.  But, only you, with your steadfast, to the point editorial touched the inner, critical essence of the "game".  It's should always be about the horse. Thanx to everyone here who responded as they/we all should... Scott's Cause

24 Jul 2013 8:05 PM

Soldier Course, that is perfect.  We love Justa Bob in my family. There are some wonderful ideas out there.  Just 1% would make such a huge difference.  But I also think a percentage of every stud fee and every purse would put the responsibility in the right place.  If we want to make racing into the glorious sport it could and should be, we all bear the responsibility to care for the horses.

24 Jul 2013 8:08 PM
Fran Loszynski

I'm so proud  of you  Steve. Out beautiful racehorses follow who pulls their reign. You almost wish they would jump the fence and run run run kings of the wind. But they trust us. Please if you who buys this 5 or ten year old horse give this racehorse to a child.  This  child will hold this racehorse in his innocence away from your tearful    ignorance  and you can return to your passions

24 Jul 2013 8:17 PM

You people DONT UNDERSTAND THE GAME.......dont run a horse with problems? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This is what the sport is! Almost all horses have problems....why dont you people know this? I own 2 horses, one is 9 yrs old, has the current lead in wins at my track....hes a few away from the i retire him? because he has ankle, hock, back issues? I had a horse get hurt last year....instead of retire him, i paid for surgery....he went back in training, had some issues....came to the point of running him down in class or do the right thing..........i retired him...........i probably couldve won a little money with him...but decided to do the right thing.......but you people try to make this trainer into a villian! shame on you all........where in your article, mr. holy.....does it say what his problems were?  seems like alot of people claimed him....word gets around, maybe everyone knew the horse had problems.....but not the problems you think.....shoddy reporting.....not fair to the people involved............another article in which you and your haskinheads, try to once again point out how you care more than anyone about horses than anybody..............learn the game people.............

24 Jul 2013 9:08 PM
Woodland Dash

This story is exactly why I quit breeding. I always kept track of my foals and I was able to get my last 2006 colt back (he was in somewhat sad shape), I vowed that was it. You raise them, love them, and then turn them over to someone else who runs them into the ground without regard to their well being. I loved the babies, loved the mares but hated what others in the industry were all about. Thanks Steve for telling it like it is and calling attention to this kind of nightmare.

24 Jul 2013 9:09 PM

fb0252.....the only sane statement in here.....

24 Jul 2013 9:10 PM
Paula Higgins

I see that Thacker's side has been posted also by Bloodhorse. The bottom line is that he should have tried to help this horse, even for the short term. If he wasn't responding then he could have made the decision to euthanize. I know I wasn't there but I think any horse in racing deserves the best shot to live after an accident. If there is any doubt at all, try to save the horse.

24 Jul 2013 11:03 PM
Needler in Virginia

KY VET, while you rant and hate all us (Gawd forbid!) "horse lovers" that as bad as being a tree-hugger??.......... you have failed to see one large truth. That truth is just this simple: PEOPLE create all these horses, PEOPLE choose to breed the elderly mare that probably shouldn't be bred again but she might have another foal in her so go for it, PEOPLE take these horses to trainers where they stand for 23 hours a day in stalls, run their eyeballs out for a few minutes, cool out and then stand in their stalls again (WOW! what a great regimen THAT is for an athlete!), and PEOPLE choose when and how they die. PEOPLE control every portion of these animals' lives from conception to death. Since people control 'em don't you think, possibly, maybe people MIGHT have a teeny bit of responsibility for 'em?? It certainly appears YOU tried to be responsible so maybe your venom towards the horse huggers is misdirected. You certainly appear far angrier than most of those who are devastated about not only Monzante, but also all the other horses that were run unfit and paid the price. WHY ARE YOU SO ANGRY? Because someone dares question bad ethics??

Even human athletes don't perform well injured, or did you miss that part? Yes, horses as well as humans frequently "run through the pain", but to run an ouchy horse KNOWING the animal is ouchy is criminal, AND to complicate matters the human can choose NOT to run while the horse really can't let you know just how ouchy he is. There really ARE a few of us who know a fair bit about this game, AND who understand the realities of horses and race tracks, KY VET......maybe not as much as YOU do, but then........ who does?

25 Jul 2013 12:06 AM

Steve, thank you so much for covering this horrific and needless death of a former top race horse.

The entire situation makes me feel sick to my stomach.

While the tradition and history of the sport - not to mention the horses themselves - can be wonderful, it can be so difficult to be a fan at times.

Is there any other sport in the world that is so self destructive? The drugs, the treating of horses as if they are trash to be thrown away (search for the stories of Regal Mind and Dynaking), the poor treatment of the bettors (the entire Life at Ten episode when the mare should have never raced in the BC, but was loaded into the gate rather than scratched, which lost the money of a lot of people and needlessly endangered the horse and jockey). I could go on and on about the nasty underside of the sport.

I only hope there will be a bright ending to the story of St. Nicholas Abbey and his surgery to counterbalance the horror of what happened to Monzante.

25 Jul 2013 12:55 AM

This is a very sad story.  The current owner/trainer appears most responsible, though one must also wonder about the track vets/stewards who'd cleared him to run. A red flag should go up if there is, as here, a precipitous drop in class. Every racehorse owner (including every former owner) should take enough of an interest in her horse to keep track (e.g., via Equibase) of where and at what level he's running; should exercise her best efforts to find or help to find him a home when his racing days are over; and should communicate her intent and ability to help to the horse's current owner and trainer.  Other parties, such as the horse's breeder(s) and prior trainer(s), should also assume greater responsibility, at least in the sense of a moral duty.

25 Jul 2013 1:05 AM

KY vet, I think you need to get OUT of the game.  I think we all understand way more than you give us credit for....  

25 Jul 2013 2:05 AM

Sadly, Monzante's fate will soon be forgotten just as Exceller's and Ferdinand's tragic ends have faded with time.  However, there is one way to ensure his name and fate live on: someone, somewhere, please create a stakes race to be named for this courageous Thoroughbred, and make it a turf race for it was in the Eddie Read (gr. 1) where Monzante first covered himself in glory.  Perhaps it should be restricted to geldings which have been graded stakes winners for they are the warriors of the turf, racing without hope of retirement to a stud farm.  They should be no more disposable than their entire brothers, and should be spared such a cruel fate simply because they are old or have lost their edge or sustained injuries which have made them less competitive.  The Monzante Stakes for four year-old geldings and up to be run over a mile and an eighth on turf, all betting proceeds to be donated to a Thoroughbred retirement facility.  Think about it.

25 Jul 2013 3:27 AM
michael old friend

Steve, Great job. We just need more space at Old Friends to take them in....We have Star Plus at Old Friends..If it wasn't would have been another. And I am in love with horse racing..but these great athletes need computer chips and social security. Thanks again.

25 Jul 2013 7:14 AM
Sue MacGray

@KY vet, I respect your opinion, but it appears there are others here who are also in the game (not 'just' fans) as well as horse owners who seem to think improvements can be made to prevent (or greatly reduce) occurrences such as these. In your case you say yourself, 'I did the right thing,' and that's great. Apparently many do not. If some kind of monitoring can be instituted or a system whereby $$$ is set aside for retirement that would be great. There's another article in BH about 'Slippin' Around' that highlights the ineptitude of some of the trackside investigations. If horse racing could get it together enough to institute national guidelines and oversight instead of the current 'system' where regulations are different at every track, that also, would be a positive.  

25 Jul 2013 7:33 AM

Thacker should never train a race horse anywhere ever again.  Without swift justice for the horse there is no credibility in this sport.

25 Jul 2013 7:49 AM
ceil rock

For everyone who thinks this is a sad story, type in Wanderin Boy in the search space at the top. Then read Steve's column from Nov. 30, 2008. Tell me what you think.

25 Jul 2013 11:00 AM
Pedigree Ann

Mary A., why should you be unhappy that Still Smoldering is still racing and winning at age 11? Chindi raced and won up to age 11, running competively in stakes until age 10. The grand old man Maxwell G. won at age 15, won 47 of 127 races lifetime, and he was a claimer all his life. (I should note that in his older years, whenever Maxwell might be claimed, he would be immediately reclaimed by owner/trainer Richard Haselton.) Over in Britain, group winner Further Flight raced and won up to age 12. John Henry was twice a G1 winner at age 9, having been a SW at 2 and all other years he raced. All those horses retired as 'good servants' to connections when they decided that winning races at each's level was beyond them.

Age does not indicate suitability for racing - race results do, and the key point may happen at any age. One sees horses who should not be racing every day in the PPs - they may have a good overall record and earnings, but their record for this year may be 5/0-0-0 and for last year 12/0-0-1. And they are running at the lowest level at the track. They may be sound enough to run, but they can't compete anymore and should be retired to their second career before they become unsound.

Monzante raced in Britain at 2 and 3, winning at 2 on the AW at Kempton. His then-owners saw him as a Derby candidate, but he could manage only a 4th in the G3 Dee S and a 6th and last in the listed Fairway S at Newmarket (Derby preps). He was then sold in a racing age sale for $213,444 and sent to the US, resurfacing at Santa Anita as a gelding in the winter. He then had his sterling year as a 4yo, winning a G1 and paying back his purchase price twice.

It was downhill thereafter - he was stakes-placed at 5, but could no longer compete with same level. It was then - at 6 or 7 - that Monzante should have been retired and retrained for a second career. There is no excuse for trying to squeeze a few more races out of a horse who has rewarded its owners on this scale.

25 Jul 2013 11:39 AM
A Horsey Canuck

I see that BH has posted a piece, quoting trainer Thacker as saying that his vet said that Monzante's injury was so bad that it would be best to euthanize the horse. Personally, I don't buy it. It seems that Thacker has a history, one that should put him as far away from ANY horse as possible... FOREVER. This whole incident gets more disgusting by the minute.

25 Jul 2013 1:06 PM
Needler in Virginia

Horsey Canuck, I'm with you on this one. Thacker had a few days to assemble a response and since the horse is dead, he's gonna have to justify it some way. By saying the pain was too much he's playing big time CYA, But, in reality....what a great name for a horse!....... what else can this dirtball say?? He MUST say something and nothing else sounds like it's not just an excuse for getting rid of an annoying and expensive problem. Buy it? Nah, not me nor you, obviously. Why do I think we are not alone in this?

Cheers and safe trips.

25 Jul 2013 1:38 PM

To the "hardcore", horse racing is a business and these animals are not pets.  If they have medical issues, so what?  It is just part of the sport and "deal with it".  I say, it is that kind of thought process that results in tragic stories like that of Monzante.  The horse had a past leg injury, yet he was still claimed and continued to run which more than likely contributed to his breakdown and ultimate death.  The horse, Autism Awareness, is another example.  Once a Derby hopeful and winner of the El Camino Real, this 8-year-old was sidelined with a leg injury for 6+ months and came back only to breakdown at Santa Anita this past April.  Whether you are a human athlete or equine, the older one gets the less likely you are going to recover completely from an injury that would allow you to successfully compete against younger, stronger competition.  For the equine, this could wind up with a tragic ending.  Monzante's death is indeed heartbreaking, but regretfully, this horse will not be the last example so long as there are people in the industry who look at these animals as a "business" with little regard or compassion for them.  Remember folks, as one person commented here, it is part of the sport.

25 Jul 2013 2:32 PM
Soldier Course


Don't you just love Justa Bob? What a treasure. I have a special pin, oval-shaped like a racetrack with lines etched around it like like lanes or trips. In the center where the infield would be, I had the jeweler engrave "Justa Bob".

I thought of another reason that Justa Bob would be a good name for the fund I mentioned above. A "bob" is slang for the shilling, once a currency unit in England. And it's a very small amount. So the Justa Bob Fund's name would serve to remind bettors that they're really sacrificing very little money compared to the good it will achieve.

Every horse deserves to get what Justa Bob got. A happy ending.

25 Jul 2013 4:02 PM
Cougar II

Yukon: I think your idea is outstanding. Only wish I had the power to help implement it.

25 Jul 2013 5:10 PM


Sue MacGray, I agree with you.  Congress, as well as the Supreme Court, is not inclined to get involved or pass legislation on such issues that it considers to rest with the sovereignty of the states.  There are exceptions though, i.e. abortion, the 2000 Presidential election, whereby the US Supreme Court heard and issued opinions.

My opinion is that, since horse racing is an industry (business), and horses do cross state lines to compete, which is a very important fact, such industry should be regulated by the federal government.  Therefore, federal laws should be enacted to provide for the promulgation of rules and regulations governing this industry.

To all on this blog and the Alex Brown Racing blog, please let me know if you hear of any horse being neglected in the state of Louisiana.  I am employed by the Louisiana State legislature. I can help.          

25 Jul 2013 7:01 PM
Ida Lee

I note that some of my favorite TBs have been mentioned by some in the above comments. Yes, indeed, I remember Wanderin Boy well and Ferdinand, I won't be forgetting him anytime soon. He was one of my all time favorites and the way he died left a whole in my heart that won't be healing anytime soon. Then there was Timber Reserve who broke down in Saratoga. He was so beautiful and always showed up giving his best. I could go on and on because it's not just the superstars we love, we love the animal, we lose the beautiful equine athlete running with grace and beauty and power. Yes, it's a business, we are all well aware of that, but these are living breathing creatures who look to us to take care of them because they can't do it themselves. If you don't understand how it works, then go into a business that does not involve living things.

25 Jul 2013 7:57 PM

The point STILL IS......the article was bush league.....people wanting the trainer banned......people not going on facts, not fair to the people involved.........everybody jumped on the bandwagon, and now.....they haved dropped the investigation/ and or possible charges.....i wonder why?  maybe they got the actual facts! you people should be ashamed of yourselves.........the writer should be ashamed of himself......inflaming situation, unfairly blaming all people involved......stick to the wizard of oz stuff.....

25 Jul 2013 8:40 PM
Mary McLeod

Dear Steve,

I love your writing and postings. I have in an earlier post thanked you and Bloodhorse for your courage in writing/printing your essay.

Thank you Michael of Old Friends for your post!! You are one of my heroes!!

Want to let everyone know one of our group to save G Ten has developed a fantastic Facebook page. Please consider stopping in and liking our boy. He has reached  the bottom in the world of horse racing, and he has earned a second career. Please, everyone, consider joining us who are trying to save him. He is another gray.

Keep writing from the heart, Steve, for you touch my heart deeply.

Thank you, and take care,

Mary in Boone

25 Jul 2013 8:57 PM
Needler in Virginia

And now we see that the Louisiana Racing Commission has "investigated" the Monzante "situation" thoroughly and decided that no further action will be taken. I, for one, am thrilled at the speed and in-depth fact finding of the LRC. I'll sleep better tonight knowing that, at last, all the horses racing in the Bayou State are safe.

No cheers tonight.

25 Jul 2013 11:44 PM
Blum Gone

Michael Blowen, if you have connections at Canterbury and can get Porfido, I'll arrange transportation.  I have a friend who has land upon which to put him, so you're under no obligation to provide for him any further.

26 Jul 2013 1:18 AM

The answer is simple. The Horse racing Industry not only should step up but all should: that is owners, trainers, jockeys ....all. From Agents to hot walkers from Track announcers to venders, from fans to magazine and telecommunicators.

Maybe if we all stopped in a moment of clarity & realized that every time we saw a horse go down, a jockey fall, an ambulance and shielded truck with vet arrive that we hoped simultaneously....that the Jock was OK, that the horse wasn't going to be killed, and who was the trainer / owner of that horse.

We all do it.....maybe its time we did something as a group.

26 Jul 2013 1:31 AM

BLUM GONE - Do you have any connection with a retired TB of the same name? If so, I'd like to let you know he's happily retired at a TRF SC farm in South Carolina. We'd love to know more about him if you can help.

26 Jul 2013 9:44 AM

well yes, it's sad. but on the other hand, he was spared the fate of horses, packed together and shipped across the border to an even worse fate. that is what i wanted to prevent, when i spotted advice running in a 3,500 tag on january 25th last year and wrote winstar farms immediately, although i didn't get an answer from their public relations woman, until january 28th. but i'm glad he's happy and safe.

26 Jul 2013 1:17 PM

To Yukon:

I think your idea is fabulous and I hope there is a way for some people with power within the industry to establish it.  What a wonderful step in the right direction that would be!  I also think other ideas I have read on this board regarding fees that would go toward retirement for horses are also fabulous ideas that need to be taken seriously and implemented.  We have the dialogue going, which is wonderful, now we all need to follow it with positive actions!

26 Jul 2013 2:20 PM
A Horsey Canuck

Although I am a proud Canadian citizen, I am disgusted that my country allows horse slaughter to take place. How can I put my voice to abolish something so abominable? I have spoken out against Monzante's seemingly unnecessary euthanazia, but at least, he didn't have to travel to Canada to be slaughtered. This practice in my own country makes me sick to my stomach and I apologize to all of my American friends that it is allowed to happen here.

26 Jul 2013 2:20 PM
Soldier Course


Hello! Nice to see your post. I'm in Charleston.

26 Jul 2013 3:36 PM

All horses' deaths at the hands of mindless handlers is a travesty.

I was at Colonial Downs on derby day (July 13th). I'm sure everyone was sickened by watching Risk Tolerance's euthanization on the track. I would've taken that horse home with me to mend rather than see the end result.  (Hillwood Stable, LLC you should be ashamed). Too many people getting into the business with greed as their motivating factor.


26 Jul 2013 4:11 PM

Oh...while we're looking at untimely and inhumane deaths.

Anyone ask themselves why Secreatariat turned up with laminitis in his 19th year of life?

He WAS retired, pensioned, and with a loyal following as visitors.  Never understood that one.

26 Jul 2013 4:13 PM
ceil rock

Nobody wants to euthanize a horse on the track - that's the biggest downer of all, both for the fans and the TV audience. It's only done when there is really no other option. If you can't get the horse up, into the ambulance and back to the barn, what then? Most experienced trainers & vets pretty much know if they have a catastrophic breakdown on their hands  (like Eight Belles - and Barbaro, who should have been euthanized early on).

26 Jul 2013 6:51 PM

@Aleine - Huh? That was 20 plus years ago.  Think about how far the science has progressed and we still lose horses to laminitis (although I'm very optimist with recent advances this problem will be tackled).  Secretariat had cushings..why does laminitis surprise you?   Take hints of conspiracy elsewhere.

27 Jul 2013 11:53 AM

@KYVET: Funny how you bash the article for not having the facts but then turn around and make assumptions about the folks that comment.  Plenty of industry types regularly follow/comment on Mr. Haskin's articles.  IMHO, some of this comes down to plain old common sense and descency.  I have no issue with running older horses and we have seen examples of very successful and well managed careers. BUT when those older campaigners started to loose a step or had re-occurring nagging injuries the owners/trainers had the sense to recognize it and out of respect for the horse and its service, they retired them rather than give the lemon one last squeeze.  I don't know Monzante's trainer or owner but I don't need to in this situation.  You can do everything by the book but that doesn't equate to showing good judgement and that is where they failed across the board in this case.  The decision to euthanize may in fact have been the correct one...don't know, wasn't there BUT the real point is that it should have never been a question.

27 Jul 2013 12:17 PM
Soldier Course


I don't read your post as a conspiracy theory. It raises the same question I ponder from time to time. One form of laminitis is "weight bearing" ( also called "load bearing"), and can develop when a limb bears an extra heavy load. Secretariat looked like he had gained a lot of weight as he aged.

27 Jul 2013 1:38 PM
Soldier Course


You've hit the nail on the head. The issue Steve's article raises is not limited to the trainer's decision to euthanize Monzante, but encompasses all his previous decisions regarding the poor horse that gave rise to his sad, sad ending.

27 Jul 2013 3:04 PM
Lise from Maine


Thank you so much, Steve, for sticking up for Monzante and all the other horses.

This kind of action "turns off" fans.

The industry needs to do something about it.

The horse must come first in terms of his or her needs.

It is that simple.

Thank you once again.

Lise from Maine

27 Jul 2013 10:34 PM
Needler in Virginia

I think LaMarra is missing the point, too. He seems to be hung up on whether or not Monzante was euthanized on the track or not, and whether or not the decision to euthanize was made then or back at the barn. The end result, he says, is that everyone jumped too soon and too hard on Thacker. Is that the problem, or is the problem that this travesty ever happened in the first place? Talk about angels on the head of a pin............

Bah, humbug..............BAH!

27 Jul 2013 11:27 PM
Pedigree Ann

Soldier Course - Sec HAD gotten roly-poly. Not enough exercise to work off the food intake. That's why another farm (Three Chimneys was it?) gave Seattle Slew exercise under saddle - to keep him from getting too heavy for his legs. These big-framed horses, like John Wayne or Johnny Weismuller, are going to put on weight as they age unless they get more exercise than wandering in a paddock.

28 Jul 2013 2:14 PM

Thank God for you Steve Haskin!  

I just now read your article about Manzante and I feel sick.  Sick that the tragic downslide and ending for Manzante could still be happening in the year 2013.  Why?

Your words should be published in every possible meida format.  Thank you for having the courage and heart to speak out and stand up for the horses who give so much.  

Is there anything we the fans can do, anything at all to help prevent the neglect and finally abuse this horse suffered from happening again?  

Manzante deserved to retire in a honorable and dignified way.  Did not one single owner or trainer care?

I am watching another famous gelding who ran in the triple crown races a few years ago.  He is now 7 years old and often races at Delaware Park.  I pray his owner and trainer have read your article.  Maybe they don't really need to and are cut from a different cloth than Manzante's connections.  Hopefully, they will care enough to ensure this great gelding does not have to slide down the dismal ladder to oblivion.

Finally, Steve I read all of your articles but rarely comment on the blogs but this time it was more than I could handle.

Sincerely, Freetex

28 Jul 2013 4:22 PM

I've read every comment and deliberately waited to post until after seeing comments regarding Thacker's "rebuttal".  Which was a long time coming, by the way, and smacks mostly of "CYA".

Like another poster, I can't know whether or not euthanasia was the right decision, but I think it's clear a one-time Grade 1 winner shouldn't wind up in a 4K claiming race.  Somebody should have given this horse a well-earned retirement long before his sad end.

I also feel compelled to comment on laminitis.  I just lost a well-loved and well-cared for gelding just a day before his 17th birthday.  He had been leased to a very good friend who had owned his sire and needed a riding horse after her stallion died (at the ripe old age of 27).  Ray had the best of care his entire life and the best of care after the laminitis diagnosis.  We tried for a month to save him using every treatment available in my area.  But trust me, when a horse's coffin bone drops through the sole of his hoof and can't bear any weight whatsoever on the leg, the only humane thing is euthanasia.  You can bet Secretariat got the best of care as well, and yes, he probably should have been kept more fit and less heavy.  But, if indeed he was a Cushings horse, as someone else mentioned, this is very hard to manage even now, and probably more so then.  Laminitis is very common in Cushings horses.  I sincerely hope veterinary medicine will come up with a cure, or at least better management, for both Cushings and laminitis.  It can't come too soon.

28 Jul 2013 7:19 PM

There are so many great Ideas mentioned here.  How do we make something happen?  

Monzante is another sad name on a long list.  We have argued about who is to blame way too often with no results. Let's forget blame and find an answer.

I am just a fan, a horse lover who knows we have another chance here to do the right thing. But I have no power to make a change in this industry.  Who does?

28 Jul 2013 9:50 PM

Thanx Pedigree Ann. Secretariat was at Claiborne farm. Just my point about mis-management of that horse in his retirement. He was a key attraction for visitors at Claiborne---that was the bottom line. No time for keeping him in shape, just a circus attraction. Who cares if it was 20 years ago.

Granted Secretariat was a mischief maker-he once escaped from his Va farm and was out on the highway late at night when a trucker saw him and kindly returned him to Meadow Farm. Big Red still rules in Va.  Too bad his demise was too soon.  Cushings? I knew his heart was oversized-cardiomegaly.

28 Jul 2013 10:53 PM

Ceil Rock...I don't know about your suggestion that Barbaro should have been euthanized early on. I'm sure those few days he was allowed outside to munch on grass and breathe in fresh air were true gifts for him at the vet hospital.  He could've moved in with me if the Jackson's were too burdened.

28 Jul 2013 10:56 PM
Soldier Course

Because Barbaro lived for eight months after his catastrophic injury in the Preakness, he left a legacy of awareness and generosity to support research on laminitis. He also put PennVet on the map, contributing greatly to its reputation and endowment. Two years ago PennVet recognized every single donor to Barbaro Fund in the five years following his death, in a special issue of its "Bellwether" magazine.

The last eight months of Barbaro's life were not lived in vain.

29 Jul 2013 1:53 PM
Blum Gone

TRF SC, please e-mail me privately:

ssefscik at

31 Jul 2013 11:19 AM
Blum Gone

Freetex, you said: "I am watching another famous gelding who ran in the triple crown races a few years ago.  He is now 7 years old and often races at Delaware Park."

Would be helpful if you would share this horse's name.

31 Jul 2013 11:25 AM

Blum Gone, the horse I am watching is Win Willy.   He has had quite the career.  

Is there any news on Portfido?  How about G-10?  What can we do to help?

31 Jul 2013 4:13 PM
Blum Gone

Freetex, please e-mail me privately, so we can "talk."

ssefscik at

01 Aug 2013 4:07 PM

DISGRACE and the horse could have been saved (see report) and Thacker claimed Monzante was a member of the family ... DISGRACE !!!

01 Aug 2013 6:27 PM

There isn't a market for 25,000 retrained thoroughbreds per year. Not even if they were free.

I placed a few with endurance riders, one cutting horse, one small little stud with extreme shoulder as a herd sire for sports ponies but the warm bloods have decimated the market for hunter/jumpers. (What a marketing triumph to make it the conventional wisdom that warm bloods have more "scope" than the horses who jump the Grand National course!)

I absolutely agree, Steve, that it is outrageous to race them to destruction, but let's not kid ourselves that there is a viable alternative in finding retirement homes for tens of thousands of horses. The broodmare population is dropping dramatically, so motherhood is not a second career for a lot of fillies and mares -- it's not only tough old geldings.

A death without fear and pain is the most we can aspire to for most of our retirees.

03 Aug 2013 4:06 AM
Blum Gone

If anyone is still reading these comments, be advised that Cost of Freedom (nearly $1 million earned) and Speed Rouser (age 11) are running at Santa Rosa, Wed., 8-7 in Race 6.  Both bred by Harris Farms.

04 Aug 2013 11:10 AM
sharon tupper

This is happening to good horses that don't deserve this kind of treatment. If thoroughbreds aren't performing to their full potential, then by all means retire them and find suitable homes where they can start their second career; not putting them in claimers and then they break down and this happens. Monzante still had his life ahead of him but now he won't get to experience it because his owners wanted to be stupid. What the heck is wrong with these people today? Too much overbreeding and they are breeding for speed. As it is, there are too many horses winding up at auctions and half of them go to slaughter. I think the owners need to be held responsible for their actions and if their horses aren't performing to their full potential, the owners need to be forced to retire their horses with no questions asked. The jockey club needs to do something about this as well. The industry wasn't like this when Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed were around. Stop overbreeding people and give racehorses a second chance at doing another career!!!!

10 Nov 2013 11:47 PM

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