JC / Railbird

Monzante’s Legacy

It’s been more than a week since the Louisiana Racing Commission concluded its investigation into the death former Grade 1 winner Monzante at Evangeline Downs in a $4,000 claiming race on July 20, determining that all regulations and safeguards had been followed and that there was no action to take. The furor that followed his euthanization, which began subsiding as details of Monzante’s circumstances and final injury became known, has abated.

But Monzante’s fate still reverberates. Sometimes explicitly, as in Esther Marr’s OTTB Spotlight on Sandburr, retired at 10 when he became uncompetitive at the $25,000 claiming level, and sometimes quietly in the thoughts of those for whom he became a symbol of the holes in racing’s safety net. He crossed my mind while reading Jay Hovdey’s column about the 1973 Whitney, which ends with trainer Allen Jerkens reminiscing about the retirement of Onion:

“We gave him the whole year off and then brought him back, and he won a couple of races, for $25,000 or something like that. We never ran him real cheap. Eventually he went to the owner’s farm, where he had a nice field with all the other old geldings. He lived to be 26.”

We never ran him real cheap … he lived to be 26. An echo across decades, of the decisions that humans make, and the consequences that horses bear.