Updated on 09/16/2011 6:44AM

Monarchos retired to stud


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Monarchos, the 2001 Kentucky Derby winner, has torn ligaments in his left front ankle and has been retired to stud, his connections announced Monday.

Trainer John Ward said he thought Monarchos simply rapped himself while galloping last Thursday morning. Ward was planning to breeze Monarchos last Saturday in preparation for the Feb. 9 Donn Handicap, but canceled those plans and ordered X-rays taken Saturday afternoon. The X-rays revealed a tear of the front medial branch of the superficial digital flexor tendon (commonly called the XYZ ligaments) below the left ankle.

"From my understanding, those things take a long time to mend and the chances of being 100 percent are unlikely," said John Oxley, who owns Monarchos along with his wife, Debby. "It's not the type of chance you want to take with a horse of this quality."

*, a son of 1995 juvenile champion Maria's Mon, won four of 10 starts, including the Kentucky Derby and Florida Derby. He earned $1,720,830. His final time of 1:59.97 in the Derby was the second-fastest running, behind only Secretariat's 1:59.40.

Monarchos finished sixth in the Preakness and was a well-beaten third in the Belmont Stakes.

Both races were won by Point Given. Shortly after the Belmont, Monarchos was found to have a hairline fracture of his right knee and was shelved for the remainder of the year.

Monarchos returned to the races Jan. 19 at Gulfstream Park, finishing third, 8 3/4 lengths behind Mongoose in a fourth-level allowance race.

Ward said he did not think the injury happened during the running of the race. "I think he did it in a gallop during midweek," Ward said.

As of Monday, plans for Monarchos's stallion career had not been finalized. Oxley said he began hearing from top farms when Monarchos won the Derby. Oxley wants Monarchos to stand at stud this year. The breeding season usually begins on Feb. 15.

"There's tremendous interest in standing Monarchos; calls are already starting to come," Oxley said. "We want to do the best thing for the horse and consider all the components. I have a lot of offers to consider. We'll be doing that. I want to go ahead and get him syndicated in some manner and get him on out there and open the season."

Oxley said he wants to retain at least a 20-percent interest in Monarchos.

"It'll probably be more like 40 or 50 percent," Oxley said. "Twenty to 25 percent pretty much takes care of my needs and I'd be able to breed 20 to 25 mares a year. We plan to support him heavily, of course. We have a lot of nice mares now and tremendous racing fillies that we'll breed to him."

Both Oxley and Ward said Monarchos provided them with their biggest thrill in racing by winning the Derby. Ward said he believes Monarchos will be well received at stud.

"He will always hold a very warm spot in a part of my heart because he was the Kentucky Derby winner, and he did it two-fifths of a second off the track record, making it the second-fastest Derby of all time," Ward said. "By winning the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby he put himself in the same category as Unbridled and Thunder Gulch, both of which have proven to be extremely successful stallions."

The retirement of Monarchos comes just four days after trainer Bobby Frankel withdrew Lido Palace from consideration for the Donn Handicap, meaning the two biggest attractions to the race are gone. That leaves a probable field of eight, led by Red Bullet, runner-up in the Skip Away Handicap. Also expected to run are Best of the Rest, Free of Love, Graeme Hall, Hal's Hope, Kiss a Native, Traditionally, and either Mongoose or Ubiquity.


* Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.