JC / Railbird

Centennial Farms

The Wicked Favorite

… it’s hard not to see a little Red Sox in the dark brown colt.”

If Wood winner Wicked Strong goes to the Kentucky Derby as anticipated, his story will be huge, and not only in the city he’s named to honor. It might even bump that of California Chrome, Art Sherman, and Swaps (remembered fondly in conversation by Sherman and jockey Dave Erb at the Blood-Horse.)

Convocation, Monzante Updates

First, the good news: While thinking of Monzante on Sunday, I wrote a few words about Convocation and the recent downward trajectory of the stakes-placed gelding’s career. Teresa Genaro alleviated any concern by tweeting that his original owners had bought him back to retire him from racing. Ray Paulick has more today about how Suffolk Downs and Don Little of Centennial Farms made that happen after the 7-year-old popped up in the entries for a $4,000 claiming race at the track last week:

The entry raised the eyebrows of several people at Suffolk Downs, including Sam Ellliott, the vice president of racing. Don Little noticed, too, having put Convocation on Daily Racing Form’s Stable Mail, a service that alerts subscribers when a horse is entered to race.

“I never questioned any soundness issues and have nothing against the owner or trainer,” Little told the Paulick Report, “but I know the digression of claiming races and decided we needed to find something else for him to do.”

Little contacted his Centennial partners and began the process of buying Convocation back. Word reached Elliott, who called Assimakopoulos last Tuesday and let him know Centennial was interested in retiring the horse.

“Within two minutes,” Elliott said, “I got a call back from John, and they agreed to do this without hesitation — zero reluctance.”

Convocation was scratched. “It was a seven-horse field, too,” Elliott said. “Racetracks are short of horses and you can’t tell people what to do with their horses. I’m glad I have people in place here who are willing to do the right thing.”

The deal isn’t done yet, but when it is, Convocation has a place to go: Little knows someone interested in retraining the gelding as a trail horse.

Now, the bad news: In the words of Louisiana Racing Commission executive director Charles Gardiner, Monzante “was stabilized” on track, “and in the opinion of the state veterinarians he was very salvageable.” That term isn’t as minimally positive as it might seem, and trainer Jackie Thacker and a private vet made the decision to euthanize the gelding when he returned to the barn. Matt Hegarty reported on Monday that the LRC has opened an investigation into the former G1 winner’s death at Evangeline Downs on Saturday.

For more about Monzante: Keep up via Raceday 360 Wire.