Investigation, Petitions Surround Death of Monzante

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Monzante wins the Eddie Read Handicap in 2008 Monzante wins the Eddie Read Handicap in 2008

The death of former Grade 1 winner, Monzante, in a $4,000 claiming race at Evangeline Downs Saturday has galvanized race fans and prompted an investigation by the Louisiana Racing Commission.

The 9-year-old gelding broke down during a race at about one mile and was euthanized.  It was the 43rd start of his career, one that saw him win eight races – including the G1 Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar in 2008 – and $583,929 in earnings.

Stories on the Paulick Report and elsewhere prompted a passionate response across social media.  A Twitter account called Project Monzante was launched with the description:  “Because there should be no more Monzantes. A fan effort to track the old warriors, to change racing culture, and to get involved in Thoroughbred retirement.”


At Change.org, a petition called on the National Thoroughbred Racing Association to investigate the circumstances of Monzante’s death, although the NTRA is not a regulatory or investigatory body.  The petition was addressed to the NTRA, Blood-Horse, Daily Racing Form, and Paulick Report and had gathered 750 signatures as of Tuesday morning.

NTRA president Alex Waldrop issued the following statement, urging racetracks to apply for accreditation by the NTRA’s Safety and Integrity Alliance.  Since the program began in 2008, Evangeline Downs has not applied for accreditation, one of many U.S. tracks not participating:

“We know very little about the specific events surrounding the recent death of the gelding, Monzante, but the death of any horse while racing is a cause for concern,” said Waldrop.  “The 25 racetracks accredited by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance adhere to a rigorous set of standards and protocols to foster a safer racing environment, including pre-race veterinary examinations, post-race veterinary inspections, reporting of injuries and fatalities, post-mortem veterinarian examinations, the establishment of an injury review committee, and retirement and retraining options for owners and trainers of older and infirmed horses.”

Meanwhile, Charles Gardiner, executive director of the Louisiana Racing Commission, told the Daily Racing Form the commission had launched an investigation into Monzante’s death but was still in the information-gathering stage.

Monzante, a son of champion Maria’s Mon out of the stakes-winning mare Danzante, was bred by Juddmonte.  He began his racing career in 2006/2007 in England but sold in the the 2007 Tattersalls July Sale for 100,000 guineas (about $213,444) to an American group that sent him to California trainer Mike Mitchell.  Monzante spent the next several years with different connections, at first competing in graded stakes races, but by age 7, in claiming races.

He was claimed last year by owner/trainer Jackie W. Thacker, who ran Monzante eight times in 2012.  Saturday’s race was Monzante’s first in 2013.  Equibase showed just one workout for the gelding, a five-furlong breeze of 1:02.80 at Evangeline Downs on June 1, as he prepared for his 2013 debut.

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  • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

    Hopefully something will come of this. Perhaps it is just one more wake up call for racing. People are tired of animal abuse.

    • zed

      Nothing is going to come of this. A bunch of hand wringing, some sad commentaries on the poor horse and lots of finger wagging at the big bad owners. but nothing will change. What action, or non action was done in violation of the rules? Not moral rules or even ethical rules (are there any?) but what rules of racing and those pertaining to the ownership of a racing thoroughbred have been broken? Horses are personal property, and despite how much we love them, admire them, or care for them, they are and always will be disposable personal property. If heartless owners want to run the sesamoids off an old broken gelding, and the state vet says he’s good enough to crawl or be dragged into the starting gate, well by god, that horse should and will run. Shouldn’t it? It sickens me, and it offends every moral fiber I have left, but look! Saratoga and Del Mar are open, handle is up! The grass is green! The sun is shinning. Who cares?

      • ziggiepop

        The industry no longer can hide their corrupt and unethical from the public, and if those within do not do something about it, the sport will go away.

      • Beach

        You guys don’t seem to get it–the state vet(and most of the time, I use that term loosely) is the Achilles’ heel if you want to fix this. Much of my beef, as medical person, is the fact that the AAEP and State Veterinary Board even let someone PRACTICE when a horse like that is pronounced “sound”–oh, he can race because he can “stand”?!! Those people need to get some professional ethics, or they need a crackdown. And if any equine vet has the attitude, “So what, it’s just a horse”, then I don’t know why they’re there, other than this–$$$$. And there’s a word for people who sell themselves.

        • Knowitall

          If state vets did their job correctly at tracks like Evangline Downs there would be no racing at all. That’s the catch.

          As for ZED, he or she “gets it” and is calling it 100%.

          • Beach

            My point is, I believe there should be stricter standards for “soundness”, even though I know accidents happen, and the standards and the people evaluating them should be followed, monitored, and enforced. I know, I can dream… :-/

        • betterthannothing

          Beach, the pro-horse-slaughter AAEP is a fraternity that prioritizes business over animal welfare. Pro-horse-slaughter AVMA defends and participates in cost-saving but terribly abusive practices within the livestock/meat industry.

          • Beach

            I’ve always prayed that we could get horses, especially racehorses who are not raised for consumption, off the “livestock” list. THEN, watch it all change when these practices are subject to more scrutiny and punishment.

          • betterthannothing

            The American Horse Council which defends the property rights of horse owners including to slaughter their horses at will, makes sure that horses stay on the livestock list so sending your unwanted broodmares and others to slaughter continues to be an option. The NTRA is not anti-horse-slaughter and as an AHC member is in “great” company with the AQHA, cattlemen, rodeo and carriage associations.

        • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

          EXACTLY!!! In private practice if a horse has the SLIGHTEST tendon problem (and I mean almost nothing, you can’t see it, and really probably a couple weeks would fix it) the vet says to rest the horse for 3 months! At the track it’s a far far different story. Go ahead run him.

      • Roisin

        I completely understand your view and you may be exactly right. However, I hope you are wrong. I hate to think this is just show and a little PR and then it just goes away. I’m sure there are many hoping for the latter but maybe this will be the catalyst for some badly needed change.

    • Knowitall

      Shaming owners of Gr. 1 winners might help some of those geldings down the road. But that’s about it. Again, one horse at a time. (Interesting to me how I’ve seen no effort to help or outrage about Monzante’s Thacker stablemate, First Command, who managed to finish in front of Monzante only because Monzante “stopped.”)

      • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

        I don’t really blame the owners. I blame the trainers. They are the ones who see the horses (or their assistants or foreman does), they are the ones who know the horse isn’t sound. THEY are the ones who need to inform the owner that the horse is no longer a viable racing prospect. And if they were decent people they would do that and suggest the horse be retired or rehomed.

        • blackcatlover

          In Monzante’s case, the trainer was the owner too.

        • Knowitall

          Then you are sadly mistaken in where you place the most blame in my opinion. And why do you think trainers don’t inform the owner? How do you think the decision to move a horse on in a claiming race or for sale or to a kill pen is made, Maureen? And where do you possibly get the idea that they don’t often suggest that a horse be retired? Especially the big name trainers who certainly can fill the stall’s day rate and make more money off the next up and coming horse? Trainers are trying to make a living and can only inform and suggest to an owner what to do with their property, and can only piss off so many of them, and ultimately it IS the OWNER who paid for the horse, paid the bills for the horse, and in this case, reaped the most benefit from the horse and who is most responsible for the welfare of the horse no matter how many trainers he ends up with as they move the horse around or make the decision to enter a claiming race (and it is the owner who has to agree to enter a race and pay myriad fees to do so, Maureen.)

          How you expect trainers to keep track of every horse that ever went through their barn boggles sheer logic to me. That said, I have no love lost for any of the players in this mess, nor any of the trainers who saw this horse for one day in their barn. Would it be nice for a guy like Mike Mitchell to have stepped up, possibly embarrassing his former owners? I suppose. Maybe Mike had other things on his mind, like a brain tumor.

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            I am not saying trainers should keep track of horses who have left their barn, I am saying they should be responsible about the horse when it’s IN their barn. And BTW a lot of trainers do not listen to owners and do what they want regarding drugs, etc. unless the owner takes the horse to a different trainer. Somewhere along the downward path, a horse does more than just lose speed – he/she becomes unsound. Not sore, not a little arthritic – but unsound. The trainer who has the horse IN his barn at that time needs to be responsible and tell the owner that the horse should not race anymore. For anyone.

          • Knowitall

            Maureen, ‘unsound” by common definition means that the horse is showing the symptom of being “sore” for myriad reasons, some more severe than others, some more long term than others, all best determined by a competent vet. And no, no trainer does what he wants when it comes to entering a horse without owner’s approval unless he wants to lose a fair bit of change when the owner deducts the entry and race day fees from his day rate. And the vet will stop treating if the owner refuses the bill or blasts the trainer for how high it is – and at that point, you are right, it IS time to move on. Educated owners know to interview a trainer and ask for samples of his monthly training and vet bills to assess the truth of his operation and be sure it matches their finances and what they want for their horse.

            What I really want to know is how you are SO certain that every ONE of these trainers didn’t possibly suggest retirement for Monzante to the owner before the last gyp got him to own AND train AND kill? Let me give you an example, “He’s a classy old horse, but he is only going to fit at this price now, got some niggling stuff, maybe we retire him?” “No, you don’t want to do that, Mr. Owner, well, ok, I’ll drop him if you want where he fits, he’s your horse.”

            And how do YOU know how unsound or medicated Monzante was before he arrived at Thacker’s barn? Age does slow a horse down, and so does a mental lack of desire to race all out anymore.

            The OWNERS who made the most off this horse should have never let him go, and if they did, been tracking him to get him back below a certain price, and certainly not for as low as he went. It’s not any more complicated than THAT.

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            No, that is not true. A horse with a fracture who can jog “sound” is not sound. There is a big difference between sore and unsound. People are changing the meaning of the word, but that doesn’t mean they are right. A mare sold as sound for breeding is not sound if she’s infertile. Soundness and lack of lameness are NOT the same.

          • Knowitall

            I can see you are struggling with the definition of sound (as many do, you are not alone.)

            Let me use another example to try to help you out: “Mr. Owner, he was jogging sound as a dollar bill, but we did xrays because he had a tiny bit of heat in the ankle, and sure enough, there is a hairline. Gotta give him time off.”

            As for breeding sound, I understand your confusion on that one, too. “That mare has been looked at by three of the top repro vets in the country, every part (reproductive organ) is in place and working, breeding sound she is, but she just won’t catch.”

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            If that is sarcasm, I don’t get it. But sound has real meaning in the real world. If you are looking to buy a $300K jumper and he has a tiny fracture discovered on x-ray he will not pass as sound. There is sound, racing sound, and pasture sound. I raced horses who had varying degrees of osselets. One had an old suspensory injury and ringbone as well. Those horses were not sound. They were racing sound – meaning they were not sore and not lame.

          • Knowitall

            i know you don’t get it. And no, I was trying to be nice to you as I understand that you don’t understand the meaning or context of “sound” as a vet and most horsemen use the term. The jumper wouldn’t pass due to the xray that revealed the defect, but might have been perfectly “sound.”

            But our petty debate on semantics of a word don’t matter here.

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            A horse is not sound just because it is on pain meds, it’s joints have been injected, and it isn’t limping. And I doubt any vet, even a racetrack vet would say it was. Your logic is a perfect example of why horses are running who should be retired, and why they are dying on the track. No doubt the trainer of Monzante agreed with you and felt the horse was sound. It’s no wonder racing is dying when simple horsemanship is dying and people lack all but the most rudimentary knowledge of horses.

        • nu-fan

          I wonder how many of us, if we owned a racehorse, would just leave this up to the trainer? Am I the only one who sees this as the responsibility of the owner to be checking on the welfare of the horse? Wouldn’t we be asking for periodic records, including those from the vet? Wouldn’t we hire our own, personal, vet to double-check what the trainer and his/her vet is saying? I can’t imagine just turning over my responsibilities to a trainer without my eyes on that operation. And, wouldn’t we always be looking to see if the horse is sound enough to continue racing?

          • Knowitall

            Yes, you probably would. Many do. (Maybe not second guessing the trainer’s vet as that won’t go well.)

            But too many owners just look the other way, only ask the trainer what the horse can do for them and when can it run again, and treat them as a disposable luxury. One horse at a time.

          • Roisin

            Many owners, especially the more wealthy ones, are busy with their careers and trainers know that. Some trainers take advantage of such situations. I am very familiar with that scenario.
            You are exactly right about how owners need to stay involved.

          • Guest

            Only vets licensed by the track can practice there.

          • Knowitall

            And most racetrack vets wouldn’t take the job of second guessing another vet and barn. If you don’t trust your trainer and his vet – you get a new trainer. A second opinion at clinic or review of xrays is common for a specific diagnosis, Nu-fan, depending on the value of the horse (emotionally as well as $$) to the owner, but not regular vet care for an in training race horse.

          • nu-fan

            I know that there would be an ititial cost to it but I would also think that it wouldn’t take long to figure out what kind of trainer and his/her vet you’ve got. If your personal trainer, who has no connections to racing, finds that there is contradictory information being given to you–or, even, incorrect information–wouldn’t it give you the opportunity to make some changes? If an owner starts doing that, and starts developing that reputation, the corrupt trainers/vets may stay clear of you and your horse–and the ethical trainers may start seeking you (the owner) out. I still cannot help but think there are some really terrific trainers out there just looking for owners who have the same sense of value and high standards as they, themselves, have.

          • nu-fan

            Roisin: Yes, I would suspect that there are those owners who do not understand the commitments of owning a racehorse. But, I wonder how many owners, also, just want wins and look the other way. One of my favorite professors in a graduate-level business class once told the class that there is an axiom in business that says: “One can delegate authority but one cannot delegate responsibility.”

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            I know people who have racehorses and the trainer does not listen to them. The trainers do what they want. Nor do they necessarily inform owners of problems. A person I know had a horse with a trainer (she was the breeder and owner). The trainer said horse was fine. Horse was swimming. Turns out after a few races, trainer tells owner has knee problem. Granted owner should have known why horse was swimming. But non-horse people do not necessarily know. To think all trainers are honest, open, and listen to owners is to be blind.

          • nu-fan

            That’s why I’d hire my own vet to double-check what the trainer’s vet is doing or saying. There are too many vets who do care about their animal clients and do not have the vested interest in the racing component.

          • slvrblltday

            Only a vet licensed by the track can practice there.

          • nu-fan

            The horse cannot be taken off the track to be checked by a vet?

          • slvrblltday

            Sure can. Often not practical to do so on a regular basis depending on availability of an exam location, # of stock, etc

          • Knowitall

            Dumb owners who can’t find a trainer that tells them the truth are as bad as lying trainers, Maureen. And I have dealt with both, and can not stand farm managers or trainers that treat owners like that. Trainers lie to keep the horse and the day rate. But I would wager a fair amount of money that none of the big name trainers involved here lied about a damn thing to these owners, not to mention I think they could see their former Gr. 1 winner wasn’t going so well??

            I’d like to hear from the owners, tell their story, and why they moved him from Mitchell in the first place? CA courses too hard for him, too much speed forhim, or did he maybe tell them the horse was done?

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            I agree that many owners are informed and choose to get that last bit of money out of a horse by dropping it into a claiming race. But I do not believe all owners are dumb who believe their trainers. Lack of horse knowledge should not be held against people who are paying good money to a “professional” for their services.

          • Knowitall

            And all the lying trainers out there wonder why there are so few owners left? On the other hand, many of those trainers think the hard truth would stop any sane person from even contemplating buying a racehorse;-)

            What does your valid rant about lying trainers (where’s Barry when we need him?) have to do with Monzante’s slow descent into hell? The owners who paid big money for him, won big money with him, couldn’t tell that things weren’t going well for Monzante? Really? So Mitchell and Romans lied to them, or is it just as likely, that they told them the TRUTH?

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            My post, just like your post, is a response to another post. Grow up.

          • nu-fan

            Maureen: Then, they should dump that trainer and find one that isn’t as autocratic to think that the owner doesn’t have a say. Can’t imagine that there aren’t great trainers just looking for opportunities to work with more owners that aren’t only looking for wins–at any cost. These trainers might be those who are just haven’t made a big name for themselves because they haven’t racked up an inflated win percentage by doing “whatever it takes”.

          • Suzanne

            Absolutely!

        • Roisin

          “Decent” is the key word here. Decency seems to be a scarce commodity in the training world and with many owners as well.

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            Yes. Sadly true.

        • betterthannothing

          The owners are to blame first and foremost. They control the management and fate of their horses, they control the money, they pick matching trainers who they can fire without notice. If owners don’t know that their horses are injured and racing it is because they don’t want to know otherwise they would not tolerate abuse and lies and quickly move their horses to the barns of ethical trainers.

          Of course in a perfect world, injured horses would be prevented from reaching the starting gates even if they appear sound enough on drugs.

          • Olebobbowers

            I trained horses most of my life. I am now retired and as I look back I never had a single client that cared more about their horses welfare before they did the almighty dollar. I quit as soon as I recognized that trait in them, and it brings me great joy at this point of my life. It certainly limited my opportunities but it also limited the amount of nightmares I’d have suffered if I sent these amazing horses to their death. You can lose your drivers license if you commit too many infractions, same should apply to trainers licenses!

          • nu-fan

            You said it all! Thank you.

          • betterthannothing

            Ole, we are on the same page. I quit for the same reasons you did. Honorable, caring horsemen are being replaced by those that use horses without pity. The system which also prioritizes money has allowed it to happen.

          • Olebobbowers

            Congrats to you betterthannothing. It’s long said that if you don’t stand up for your principles, you have none.

        • Suzanne

          B.S. I blame the owners as much as the trainers. They knew what was happening. Don’t make excuses for people. I’m angry about this and want to see something done about it!

    • Suzanne

      Amen to that

  • Robin

    All US tracks should be required to get accreditation at the risk of being closed down! Soundness exams and drug screenings should also be mandatory for horses coming off a lay-up or running back after claiming when the entry significantly dropped in class. We have random drug tests in other major sports, why not racing? Trainers who try to get a horse to the gate by any means necessary should be penalized. Race medication rules and testing should be harmonized throughout the country at every track. Trainers choosing to not participate in the widespread use of medications as palliatives rather than therapeutic should be rewarded in some fashion. In addition to ensure that drugs are used therapeutically rather than palliatively trainers should be required to show a veterinary exam and diagnosis in order to administer any drugs. And these horses with a proper diagnosis should additionally have a veterinarian exam prior to being allowed to race again. Those of you who would say this would be expensive haven’t gotten a vet bill from the track vet for all the medications and (Bul#%#) that they currently and routinely charge for. Trainers are not vets! They should not be allowed to request and receive controlled substances to administer at their discretion. Racing needs to stop the culture of trainers being put in a position where they feel their horses have to have pre-race medications just to level the playing field because everyone else is administering them. Oh and by-the-way this exists in the upper levels of equestrian events across the board, racing is just the most prominent.

    • Batman

      Really Robin? The accreditation is a JOKE. How many deaths were there last year at in Southern California? Aqueduct two years ago? The accreditation is more for public perception than actual safety. Does any of the NYRA have safety rails? Same for Pimlico. Why aren’t the assistant starters in Maryland wearing helmets? Approved whips, helmets? This list of items could go on and on, all at “Accredited Tracks”. Nothing is enforced.

      This has very little to due with accreditation, and more with ethics. When humans can find a method to legislate moral values, racing will improve. Otherwise the real “rat” racing will continue.

      • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

        Sadly, you are correct.

      • betterthannothing

        Each track has its share of abusive owners and trainers thus preventable abuse, injury and death happen at better tracks. Yet, the NTRA has accredited some pretty bad tracks. Its accreditation avoids most important abuse and accident prevention because the NTRA has zero authority to mandate change and the most important safety and welfare reforms (including 24/7 surveillance, security and tracking of all competitive
        horses, tight medication control and public disclosure of complete
        equine medical records ultimately from birth) would be costly and disruptive.

    • Suzanne

      This is despicable. All U.S. tracks should be shut down unless they agree to – no drugs, period the end. Running a horse to death??? Why did no one take any responsibility here? These people have no soul.

  • Bheinz01

    What ever happened to Stirred Up? Does anyone know where he is today?

  • johnnyknj

    It’s good that this is getting another conversation going and they are supposedly “investigating”.
    But what are they going to find, if they find anything? Another older, compromised horse, undoubtedly with a variety of problems is pushed out there and doesn’t make it back.. It’s sad, it’s inexcusable, and it happens every day. Count on it happening again by the time this thread is closed. And the spin from the NTRA obscures the real issues. To believe for a minute that being part of the no doubt well intended “Safety Alliance” will prevent these deaths is naive. Reduce them slightly maybe, but it is guaranteed some sore horse or horses will run and breakdown at one of the “member tracks” by this time next week. This is an industry in trouble. It’s product is races and the pressure to put them on several days a week is on every racing office in the country. So they write 5k older claimers “which have not won a race in 2013″. What do you think you are getting in there? The State (or track) vets, with the best intentions, also feel the pressure. “Do I scratch this trainers horse and hurt his chance to make a living (and shorten the field), or do I pass him and hope nothing happens?” I don’t have the answer to this, but no joint injections for two or three weeks prior to running would be a start. Let’s see the NTRA make that a requirement for their “Safety Alliance” tracks. Either we clean up our act or racing as we know it is done.

  • 4Bellwether666

    People taking action on this matter is sweet to see…

  • ziggiepop

    Clay Ryder still has not been charged for his starving of an untold number of his horses. The LA Racing Commission was asked to intervene, they did nothing. I have no hope those people have taken this investigation seriously. They seem to be as corrupt as those they are supposed to be monitoring.

    • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

      Because they are the same people and they have the same mentality. Their sympathies are with trainers and owners. Horses are just objects.

  • johnthekiwi

    As much as I despise the nanny state I’m afraid it is time for a union of states (NOT THE FEDS) with horse racing to form an alliance with one set of rules. If you choose not to belong then so be it. There may have been nothing detectably wrong with him and it was a stroke of bad luck but when a 9 yo former G1 winner is racing in that condition the noise of the alarm bells going off should be deafening. Of course nothing will happen. Benghazi, IRS, faux show trials, PEDs, gun walking blah blah blah. It all just gets lost in the noise and slips away to be replaced by the next thing. There is never any resolution. I would love to see one of the 60 minutes types show up with a camera crew at the homes of the connections though. That would force the hand of a lot of people hoping this too fades.

    • Batman

      John, a “union of states” is a nice thought, but it will NEVER happen. What will happen within a decade or so is that states will start the wholesale withdraw of slot money. The more negative press, the faster the collapse.

  • Knowitall

    I am going to take a WILD guess that the “American group” that has managed to frighten every reporter into not stating their names in their reports is threatening to sue? Scott, Ray admonished TBH and DRF for failing to mention owner names last night in a tweet, yet you just did it here, too. Even Steve Haskin wouldn’t say the names in his blog post this morning. What gives?

    • Scott Jagow

      The connections were all mentioned in Ray’s original story, which is linked to at the beginning of this piece.

      • Knowitall

        I know that. And strangely never mentioned again by any other reporter elsewhere. And you didn’t mention them again here, because? Writing “Scott Anastasi and Jay and Gretchen Manoogian” was more work than writing “an American group”? I’m genuinely curious if there is more to it?

        • Scott Jagow

          There is not. This was a brief follow-up to Ray’s story, which goes into comprehensive detail about all of the connections the horse had in his career.

          • Knowitall

            I’m not buying. Not when Ray is questioning why other reporters haven’t named the owners. The OWNERS – especially Scott Anastasi and Jay and Gretchen Manoogian, are the story, because without their lapse in judgement or application of decent morals, there wouldn’t be a dead horse and therefore there wouldn’t be a story here. Has anyone called them and asked them for a response?

  • Beach

    I love these animals, I love their talent, I love the thrill of watching them do their stuff. But this kind of sickening, callous abuse, like that also suffered by Mr. Barracuda, age 10 and starting for something like the 98th time, and then falling dead before the wire, is the reason why you won’t ever catch me betting a nickel on horse racing, or even visiting any track. I can watch racing for nearly free on television. And I don’t have to watch. Plus, I’d rather give whatever nickels I can to rescue these animals when they are treated like trash, overused, or discarded. But I hope, at some point, that this sleazy industry finds a way to clean itself up. True, some are good, but many, instead, should be ashamed of themselves and I can’t even think of words bad enough to call them. RIP Monzante and others–and get a life, Louisiana, when it comes to the care of your horses.

  • spanky

    The problem (incentive) is the purse structure on the lower
    level claiming races. When you can run for a cheap tag and the purse is 3 to 5
    times the claiming price. If the tracks changed the purse structure and paid
    more for higher claiming races and allowance races and less for the bottom
    races the incentive to keep running a cheap horse would go away. The big
    problem is the cheap races tend to have larger fields and that means more money
    is bet on the race.

    • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

      I am tired of hearing it’s the purse structure. Why should people who pay the same for help, insurance, feed, etc., run for money based only on what the horse’s perceived value is? If purses are decent, trainers can take better care of their horses. The problem is people with no morals, vets with no ethics, and medication rules that allow an unsound horse to pass a vet check. I raced at the fairs in MA and purse size had nothing to do with it. If there is racing for cheap claimers there will be racing. Purses were virtually nothing, but races were full.

      • Knowitall

        Maureen, if a horse is worth 5k and you can earn a 10k winners purse, then you are more likely to run the horse “one last time” to get the purse and let him be claimed as someone else’s problem. If the purse is more in line with the horse’s value, then you are less likely to want to lose the horse assuming you see some value in the horse as an animal that makes you your living. At that level, it is about cash flow and feeding yourself and maybe the animal tomorrow, it isn’t about “profit margins” but at the end of the day, it is all horse trading.

        Purse size had nothing to do with it at MA fairs because there was no money to speak of to jack the purse way above the price you would ideally value the horse at or increase your willingness to lose the animal or run him when it might kill the horse to score one last higher dollar purse. A ratio that only exists when casino/slots money is bumping the purses. Like it does in the Bayou.

        • Jay Stone

          Purse value is a large part of the problem. Before casino money Changed the game you would turn out a horse with a problem. With purses that are almost triple the claiming price of the animal the move is to treat the injury aggressively, drop the horse, and try to win. This creates a shortage of sound horses coming off layoffs and Is part Of this Very complex problem.

        • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

          This happens constantly regardless of purse. Examples abound and many are listed on this thread. What about the horse who died being dropped to $25K from 40? What about Tweebster? It has nothing to do with purse. It is just about getting one last race.

    • Roisin

      Claiming is a dirty game with few exceptions. It is used by the top tier of racing as a disposal. I just love how the “elite” enunciate ” cheap claimer”.

      • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

        I agree. it should be done away with. Fewer horses would die on the track.

      • johnnyknj

        That is a huge overstatement. Claiming, particularly on the bottom levels, can be a “dirty game” if unethical participants are playing it, and there are certainly a number of owners and trainers with no regard for their horses.

        But many, many claiming horses are as solid and as sound as allowance or stake horses. They just have run through their conditions or simply don’t have the ability to run at higher levels. A good open 35k claimer is superior to about 95% of the horses in training at most any track (Saratoga excepted). Just look at the numerous horses claimed for prices from 5k to 65k which have gone on to win stakes recently. My Place Anytime, Sage Valley, Caixa Eletronica, Calbrachoa, Ponzi Scheme, JuJu Eyeballs, Silver Screamer and many others come to mind. Claiming races are not the problem. Manipulation of the system and lax oversight is.

        • Jay Stone

          Without the claiming game racing would not exist. They comprise 70 per cent of races at most meets. The top level of claiming horse at any given track will usually be better than 80 per cent of the horses stabled there. Add Starship Truffles to that list. A low level claimer who recently won a grade1 and went through the sales ring for 1 million.

        • Roisin

          Claiming is a dirty game and I stand by my statement. Yes, there are a few exceptions at the higher claiming prices and even some at the lower level. But have you checked to see if these horses are retired when ready or do they once again enter the claiming ranks ? I see Chamberlain Bridge a former claimer who went on to win at the 2010 BC is still racing at 9 yrs. old. I wonder if he will be retired or entered in claiming races again . So far he has earned almost 2 million from 52 starts so it would be pretty nervy to put him in a claimer. He has started 8 times since his last win in August 2012.

          Maybe if he were not a gelding he would have been retiredt to the breeding shed !!

          • johnnyknj

            You do not seem to understand claiming or race horses, for that matter, You evidently think there are different species – claimers and non-claimers. Horses can be, at different times, stake horses, then claimers or claimers then stake horses or any sequence possible. They improve, tail-off, get good again, etc. If they are fillies and stake winners at some point, they are almost always bred. If they are geldings they usually don’t do well at stud , regardless of whether they ran for a price or not! Running a horse in a 100k or50k claimer is hardly saying he is finished or a red flag of some kind. Whether they were or are claiming horses is not the issue. The issue is preventing any horse with problems which predispose it to a breakdown from running.

          • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

            Yes! Thank you. Stakes horses break down on the track as well. Just because the trainer is more successful and the horse is faster changes very little. The unsoundness is there and drugs are used to mask it.

          • Roisin

            Yes, of course ” I think they are different species”! Thank you so much for trying to clear things up for me and especially re. the geldings!!
            PS Wish us luck at Saratoga today !

          • johnnyknj

            Just teasing and good luck! Enjoy watching the 100k optional claimer at the spa today and wish us luck at Monmouth on Haskell day. (In a 200k Stake with a former claimer)

          • Roisin

            Yes, I sure do wish you the best of luck at Monmouth ! How exciting is that ! and a former claimer too.
            A disappointing 4th for us today, but that’s horse racing !

          • 4Bellwether666

            He would have been long gone to the shed…

      • 4Bellwether666

        ty…The word cheap and Horse should never be used in the same breath when referring to these Immortal Animals…Period…

        • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

          Thank you!!!! It has been said before on this forum (and people agreed) that you can tell a cheap horse from a good horse by looking. I was so angry I didn’t dare post. You can tell a horse’s CARE by looking, but a $4000 claimer can look exactly like a GI winner. In fact I doubt people could tell them apart if they were in the same stable getting the same care. And who is a better case in point than Monzante. I’m sure if the people who believe in cheap horses didn’t know who he was and saw him on the track would have considered HIM a cheap horse. EVERY horse on the track works hard and with few (intelligent) exceptions gives all they have.

  • Olebobbowers

    Hope the Louisiana Racing Commission takes this more seriously than the CHRB did when doug o’neill sent Burna Dette to her death as he claimed her at Del Mar for $40,000 and shortly after dropped her down to a $2,500 claiming price at Los Alamitos. She was euthanized as she fell to her death in that race. I will never forget seeing her thrashing, the lights above blinding her as she lay waiting for the track Vet to stick that needle in her to end her life. Seems some people don’t mind sending horses to their death, but damn, in the process jocks can also be killed or paralyzed, guess that’s ok too though, as long as they get that $2,500 if she’s claimed. The penalty served on o’neill for that barbaric act you ask? None. Rest in Peace BD, some of us true horseman admire how gallant you were. You deserved so much more ;’(

    • RayPaulick

      Just to set record straight, claim of Burna Dette was for $25,000 at Hollywood Park. CHRB said it did conduct thorough investigation.

      • Olebobbowers

        Thank you for the correction, but the impact of that despicable act on o’neill’s behalf remains my point.

      • http://www.theracehorseexperiment.com/ Maureen Tierney

        That makes a lot more sense. However one has to have serious doubts about CHRB investigative abilities – or their desire to find the truth.

        • blackcatlover

          The CHRB is a joke.

  • Knowitall

    I will say this to all owners out there who might be squirming about now, and wondering how all these do-gooders with “no skin in the game” can complain about how you dispose of a stakes winning horse – a horse that costs a great deal to maintain and care for when he is on the downside and you’d rather be investing in the next potential stakes winner….

    Placing horses in second careers is not just good karma (although it probably really is), it is also much easier to do when you have a “name” horse and especially a gray horse. So, for all the Scott Anastasi’s and Jay and Gretchen Manoogian’s out there just looking for a fun sporting hobby, and wondering why they are being dragged through hot coals this week – do the right thing the next time you get a chance. Not that many of you will ever get the chance to do right by a Gr. 1 winner who ran his heart out for your pleasure. So maybe just do it for all of your horses at all levels as a part of the inherent cost of the “fun” you are having along the way?

    Taking 10% of purse money the horse earns for you, (the same as the amount you pay the trainer and jock for a win) and reserving it for the horse’s aftercare doesn’t seem like too much to ask, does it?

  • Richard C

    When a governor starts handing out patronage appointments, the state racing commission is not on the first few pages of the priority list. And that is where this broken down business structure – which cannot stay solvent without free handouts from alternative gaming interests – begins to show serious cracks in the foundation…..and it continues all the way to after the finish line.

  • drcate4

    Exactly what were the injuries Monzante suffered?

    • blackcatlover

      Just read that trainer Thacker said that he broke sesamoids on a front leg. Is that injury really “salvageable” as the state vet said?

  • chistine

    i am glad that there is an investagation, this does not sit well with me, ive heard alot of rumores of MONZANTE, owner and trainer, i pray they did not act out of hast just to get rid of him. Horses that run for mankind should be treated with honor and respect, they should be giving every possiable chance to survive and get the best treatments out there. they make alot of money for their owner/owners, and trainers, TIME TO GIVE IT BACK TO THESE HORSES. AND I DO NOT MEAN THE SLAUGHTER HOUSE OR to be put down.

  • SteveG

    What I find mind-boggling is that strictly from a business perspective, racing seems to prefer reeling from crisis to crisis in what amounts to sustained self-sabotage.

    Only if an appalling enough tragedy occurs, does the affected jurisdiction become galvanized to react to it, rather than make the basic changes in horse handling to remove or modify the practices which catalyze…crisis after crisis. There is no business principle I’m aware of that advocates for such tortuous self-destructive behavior.

    • betterthannothing

      Well said. This industry chooses to accept secrecy, truancy and abuse of drugs, horses and their riders each and every day. Tragedies happen and the industry gets hit again and again yet it continues to miss the will to pass strong, uniform safety and integrity reforms nationwide –which it will be forced to some day– just to save itself!

    • ziggiepop

      Well said.

    • slvrblltday

      Barbaro was the appalling tragedy, on the main stage, and had Drape and the NYT to head the call for federal intervention/ investigation. Yet we are still so far from fixing this. Just baby steps aren’t going to win the race to save the sport before it goes the way of greyhound racing. If tracks, owners, and trainers are unwilling to cooperate for their own good, I’m not sure it deserves to be saved in this country.

    • nu-fan

      You’re exactly right. Really well-run businesses know to be ahead of the curve. They do not operate on just a reactionary basis to one crisis after another but anticipate early on what negatives might affect their business and adjust their operations so that the crisis never occurs. Who are these people in the horseracing industry? Can’t believe how poorly run it is! I wonder if they even know what a SWOT analysis is!

  • ziggiepop

    Well here is one to keep an eye on. 11 years old. 66 starts, 7 starts this year already. Has won $739,000. Porfido. Claiming price 12,500.

  • old horse lover

    Whatever happened to Alex Brown’s Top Bunk List that watching horses that earned over 500,000 as they went down the claiming ladder?Does it still exist?

  • 4Bellwether666

    It took Waldrop and the NTRA long enough to get on the wagon and yet the beat still goes on…

  • Danny

    Six track records this year at Evangeline. From 4 f to 1 1/16 mile. I’ve heard many complaints this year about the safety of the track and the amount of injuries. Too fast and too hard. Add to this a $20,000 claimed drops to $4,000. You would think the management might have had the vet check the horse out. If they put as much emphasis on their track as they do on their slots, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.

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