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Ellen Parker


When we first wrote this story about new sires Austin Power and Monarchos, we had high hopes for both of them.  Sadly, neither has lived up to our expectations.  Recently we discovered that Austin Power was dead somewhere in Colorado, now our research on Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos has netted us frustration of another kind.

Over and again we have bemoaned the lack of respect for our Derby winners.  Almost every breeder or owner we know says the race he most wants to win is the Derby.  Then when the horse does so, off he goes to Japan or Korea or a regional market where he is ignored.  It is the epitome of talking out of both sides of one’s mouth.

Monarchos might have been one of the saddest examples in recent history as he is loaded with ‘Bradley blood’ and has a most intriguing pedigree.  Here is what we originally wrote about him with a few updates:

Monarchos is inbred to three very important female lines - *Boudoir II (via Majestic Prince and Graustark), *Macaroon (via Better Self and Stratmat and supported only by his sire) and *Forteresse (via Delta Judge and Roberto and carried only by his dam).

We would really rather like to see any of those lines reinforced, but via varied sources - i.e. using Strawberry Road to pick up a *Boudoir II cross or using Expelled to breed back into *Forteresse.   Where *Macaroon is concerned, we are thinking a bit differently. Both *Macaroon lines trace to Baba Kenny, which is also the tail-female line of Lear Fan, one of Roberto’s best sons at stud.  (Find him in Lewis Michael or Kitten’s Joy).   Using a horse carrying Lear Fan with Monarchos would give Baba Kenny x3 and a sex-balanced cross of Roberto (something Kitten’s Joy seems to enjoy) - not at all a bad idea.

Monarchos started off at Claiborne Farm and is currently standing at Nuckols Farm near Midway, Kentucky, where he has stood since 2008.  So he wasn’t exactly banished to the North Pole.  But when a breeder hears that a horse has been relocated he wants to know why.  But move he did and he has had quite small foal crops (as small as 14) by today’s standards ever since.

This is not a criticism of Nuckols, but of breeders who think he was somehow transformed into a unicorn or a zebra by the move.  This compact, well-balanced little guy has an enormously evolved pedigree and his medium-sized frame (16.1 hands) fits many different kinds of mares.  But he will soon be 20 and has sired only 510 foals.  Most highly commercial horses with 14 crops on the ground would have twice that many or more.  So the numbers hurt.

His colic surgery in 2011 was also a setback.  But truth be told, by then the bloom was off the rose and it probably did not cost him many mares – if any.  Point Given, who Monarchos defeated in the Derby but who won both the Preakness and Belmont and was named Horse of the Year has had a little better luck, ending up at Calumet Farm after starting out at Three Chimneys.  But stacking up his numbers against Monarchos’ own is revealing.

Monarchos has 3% stakes winners, Point Given 4% (with more than 300 more foals).  Point Given has a 1.35 AEI, Monarchos a 1.25.  So not a lot of difference between the two and Point Given, a big horse (he is advertised at 17 hands) who fits fewer types of mares has really not slammed Monarchos to the ground in the breeding shed.

Monarchos currently has seven sons at stud.  One (Aces Star) is in Sweden, another (Texas Wildcatter) is in Canada.  The remaining five are in regional markets throughout the U. S.:  Forest Command (CA); Harborage (LA); Monhocracy (NE); Rapper SS (NM) and Ruler’s Vision (FL).

Harborage is the most intriguing.  But first, let us look at the pedigree of the other Maria’s Mon Derby winner, Super Saver.  Super Saver is by Maria’s Mon out of Supercharger (A. P. Indy-Get Lucky).  Supercharger is a full sister to G1 winner Giralomo, Accelerator (G3 winner, G2 placed) an Daydreaming (G3 winner, G1 placed and the dam of G1 winner Imagining).

Harborage by Monarchos by Maria’s Mon out of Get Lucky.  Therefore, he is bred on exactly the same Maria’s Mon-Get Lucky cross as Super Saver!  So the question becomes, why is this horse in Louisiana and not in Kentucky next to his sire?  He literally screams out for A. P. Indy blood, as does Monarchos himself – Bradley blood to Bradley blood as it were, heavy on the *La Troienne – or a horse with Lear Fan as previously mentioned to up the *Macaroon ante?  

The whole business is very troubling to us.  We like Monarchos and loved seeing Maria’s Mon carry on so well.  Super Saver may or may not do better –he is holding at 4% stakes winners as well.  At the end of the day, we want both of these Derby winners to get that one big son to carry on.  But it will never happen unless breeders put their money where their mouth is.  Otherwise, just speak what you are actually doing:  Making the Kentucky Derby just another big race where horses get beat up trying to make the gate so the owner can say he has a “Derby horse”.

Derby winners at minimum deserve a home at Old Friends like Silver Charm or War Emblem.  Maybe they weren’t the greatest sires, but they did with the race everybody says they want to win.  It would be nice if Monarchos goes to Old Friends, too, when the time comes.  There at the very least he might be admired and loved.  

We love Old Friends for giving these cast-off horses homes and giving them a chance to live out their lives being loved by the racing public as well as those racing professionals who had a part in their lives.  But we also wish that we had some Silver Charm and War Emblem blood on the ground.  Old Friends is not a stallion station, so if Monarchos ever ends up there he will be bred no more.

So out of 500+ foals there has to be some who can be saved and bred correctly – that is to a Girolamo son or to a Kitten’s Joy daughter, etc.  Seeing the great old blood virtually dry up makes us sad.  And Monarchos is full of great old blood.  We hope someone out there with a daughter thinks about what a jewel he has and breeds her to an A.P. Indy-line horse who fits her – or a breeder who bred his best mare to Harborage eventually crosses back to Super Saver.

We’ll be watching…..and hoping that for a change, this is a Derby winner who gets a little respect, even late in life.

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