10/22/2016 2:23PM

Monarchos, 2001 Kentucky Derby winner, dies at 18

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Monarchos, who turned in the second-fastest winning Kentucky Derby performance in the classic's history, died Saturday morning after undergoing emergency surgery to repair an intestinal rupture the day before. The Maria’s Mon horse, who most recently stood at Nuckols Farm, was 18.

Monarchos won 4 of 10 career starts for owner John Oxley and trainer John Ward and was in the top three in all but two outings, earning $1,720,830. He appeared on the national scene when winning the 2001 Florida Derby by 4 1/2 lengths, placing himself among the Kentucky Derby favorites at that time. However, he was sent away as the sixth choice in the spring classic after finishing second, beaten 2 3/4 lengths by Congaree, in the Wood Memorial.

When the gates opened in the Kentucky Derby, late closer Monarchos, under jockey Jorge Chavez, sat in 13th early as Songandaprayer took the 17-horse field through the first quarter in 22.25 seconds and the half in 44.86, the fastest opening splits in the race’s history. Sixteen lengths behind after that blistering half, Monarchos began to make up ground leaving the backstretch and made a five-wide move on the far turn to be sixth at the quarter pole.

He continued to inhale tiring rivals but still had three lengths to make up on Congaree in midstretch. He ultimately got his revenge, as he reeled him in to win by 4 3/4 lengths going away.

Monarchos stopped the clock in 1:59.97 for 1 1/4 miles – making him the only Kentucky Derby winner to come in under two minutes, joining 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat. The latter still holds the track and stakes record at 1:59 2/5, before the widespread use of hundredths in reporting fractions.

Monarchos finished sixth in the Preakness Stakes and third in the Belmont Stakes, both won by eventual Horse of the Year Point Given, before going to the sidelines with a hairline fracture in his right knee. He returned to make one start at 4, finishing third in an allowance race, before suffering a career-ending ligament injury while training. He entered stud at historic Claiborne Farm for the 2002 season and later moved to Nuckols for the 2007 season.

Monarchos is the sire of 244 winners for earnings of $19,304,845, led by champion female sprinter Informed Decision, who banked more than $2.2 million while winning three Grade 1 events, including the 2009 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. His 19 career stakes winners also include the multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Win Willy.

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