Countdown to the Kentucky Derby - 18 Days to Go!!

Countdown to the Kentucky Derby - 18 Days to Go!!

Monarchos was a flashy colt that got his grey coat from his sire, the Grade I winning, Maria’s Mon. Out of the Dixieland Band mare, Regal Band, he was bred and foaled in Kentucky by Jim Squires, who then privately sold the grey to Murray Smith for $100,000. Entered into the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale in 1999, Monarchos didn’t make his reserve for Smith. Trying again, the pinhooker was successful in selling the colt when he was purchased for $170,000 in the 2000 Fasig-Tipton 2YO-In-Training Sale by John Oxley, by recommendation of his trainer John Ward.  

The juvenile raced twice as a 2YO, finishing 8th and then 3rd in maiden special weight contests. Turning 3, Monarchos would break his maiden in January, followed by an allowance win a month later. Moving up to stakes company, the speedy grey won the Grade I Florida Derby, prior to finishing second in the Wood Memorial behind the Baffert trained Congaree.  

Shipped to Churchill Downs, Monarchos, whose barn name was “Sparky”, underwent his preparations to take on the 127th running of the Kentucky Derby. While most of the attention was paid to the Baffert entry of Congaree and the heavy favorite, Santa Anita Derby winner, Point Given, the Ward trainee was quietly getting ready to deliver his best race.  The field of 17 made their way to the starting gate in front of 154,210 on Derby day. At the start, Monarchos was bumped by Point Given, causing him to go in on other horses. Running towards the back of the pack for the first ¾ of a mile, jockey Jorge Chavez started to take the colt to the outside to begin moving his way forward. After a mile, the duo had moved into 6th after running 5 wide through the final turn. Once they hit the top of the stretch, Monarchos began his powerful run, catching the leader Congaree with a sixteenth of a mile left to go. Continuing to draw away, Monarchos and Chavez passed the finish line 4 ¾ lengths in front of Invisible Ink in a time of 1:59.57, becoming only the second horse to win the mile and a quarter contest in under 2:00, behind the great Secretariat.  

Following a sixth in the Preakness behind Point Given, who also won the Belmont while Monarchos finished third, the grey only raced once more. After a third place finish in an allowance race at the beginning of his 4YO season, the grey was retired to Claiborne Farm. In 2007, Monarchos was moved to Nuckols Farm where he stood until 2016 when he passed due to a ruptured intestine.   The grey Derby victor sired 244 winners of more than $19 million in earnings. His best runners were Aces Star, Estrela Monarchos, and his beautiful grey daughter, 2009’s Champion Female Sprinter, Informed Decision.  

(Photo courtesy of KDM archives)

Rickelle  Nelson

Rickelle Nelson

Reservations Manager for the Kentucky Derby Museum