07/25/2013 4:26PM

Louisiana regulators drop probe into Monzante's death

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Tom Keyser
Grade 1 winner Monzante, seen winning a claiming race at Belmont Park in October 2011, was euthanized last Saturday after suffering an injury in a race at Evangeline Downs.

The Louisiana Racing Commission is satisfied that the state’s policies and regulations were followed during the handling of Monzante, the 9-year-old gelding and Grade 1 winner who was euthanized last Saturday after suffering an injury in a $4,000 claiming race at Evangeline Downs, the top official of the commission said Thursday.

Charles Gardiner, the executive director of the commission, said two state veterinarians had examined Monzante prior to his start in the race and applied additional scrutiny to the horse because of his history, in line with the commission’s prerace policies. He also said it was the trainer’s right to decide to euthanize Monzante after the horse apparently fractured small bones in his right-front fetlock joint.

“The commission is satisfied that everything that the commission was required to do was done,” Gardiner said. “Unless there’s something else that comes up, we’re going to consider this closed.”

The commission launched an inquiry into the incident after the horse’s death generated intense discussion on social-media sites and within the racing community.

On Wednesday, the horse’s trainer, Jackie Thacker, said he decided to put down Monzante after the horse began displaying signs of severe distress and pain. He said he and his wife, Geraldine, “loved the horse,” and that the decision was painful to make.

“We can’t take away that right for him to make that call,” Gardiner said of Thacker’s comments. “It’s just one of those unfortunate things, what happened.”

Monzante won the Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap in 2008 and had career earnings of $583,929. He was bred by Juddmonte Farms and raced by five different owners before he died Saturday. Thacker had owned the horse since claiming him for $10,000 in May 2012 at Evangeline Downs.