06/22/2016 10:35AM

Champion Quarter Horse Moonist dies from colic

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Moonist, the champion aged Quarter Horse of 2015, was euthanized late Tuesday after complications from colic, trainer John Cooper said on Wednesday.

Moonist was rated the nation’s leading older horse this year and was unbeaten in four starts, including the Los Alamitos Winter Championship in February. Moonist won a division of the Vessels Maturity trials at Los Alamitos on June 12 and would have been a strong favorite to win the final on July 3.

Cooper said that Moonist was “uneasy” on Tuesday afternoon, leading him to take the 5-year-old gelding to a nearby veterinarian clinic for observation. Initial tests did not reveal colic, Cooper said. It was not until Moonist displayed further discomfort that veterinarians opted to perform surgery and check internal organs, Cooper said.

At that point, Moonist had suffered internal damage and could not be saved, Cooper said.

Owned by Ron Hartley, Moonist won 24 of 34 starts and earned $878,468, racing exclusively at Los Alamitos. Moonist won four championship titles – as overall 3-year-old and 3-year-old gelding of 2014, and overall older horse and aged gelding of 2015.

By Separatist, Moonist won 10 stakes, including four derbies in 2014 – the El Primero Del Ano Derby in April, Governor’s Cup Derby in July, Golden State Derby in August, and Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Breeders’ Derby in October. He was the first horse to win four derbies in a single year at Los Alamitos.

As a 4-year-old in 2015, Moonist won five stakes, including the Go Man Go Handicap and Los Alamitos Championship. He was second in the Champion of Champions to eventual world champion Heza Dasha Fire last December in his final loss.