In response to the recent death of grade I winner Monzante, National Thoroughbred Racing Association president and chief executive officer Alex Waldrop has reiterated the importance of racetracks to become accredited by the Safety and Integrity Alliance as a way to help safeguard equine and human participants in horse racing.
A petition drive organized at Change.org has called for the NTRA to investigate how a horse that at one time won at the highest level of Thoroughbred racing was euthanized after failing to finish at Evangeline Downs Racetrack, Casino & Hotel July 20 while racing in a low-level claimer. Evangeline Downs, a Lafayette, La., track owned by Boyd Gaming, is not among the 25 Thoroughbred tracks that are accredited by the alliance.
"We know very little about the specific events surrounding the recent death of the gelding, Monzante, but the death of any horse while racing is a cause for concern," Waldrop said in a July 22 statement. "The 25 racetracks accredited by the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance adhere to a rigorous set of standards and protocols to foster a safer racing environment, including pre-race veterinary examinations, post-race veterinary inspections, reporting of injuries and fatalities, post-mortem veterinarian examinations, the establishment of an injury review committee, and retirement and retraining options for owners and trainers of older and infirmed horses."
A 9-year-old gelded son of Maria's Mon bred by Juddmonte Farms, Monzante won the Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) in 2008. From 43 career starts, Monzante posted eight career victories and earned $583,929.
From his glory days, Monzante had gone through a succession of owners and trainers in recent years and was coming off a layoff of nearly eight months when owner-trainer Jackie W. Thacker entered him for a $4,000 tag in the fourth race at Evangeline Downs July 20. The 5-2 favorite in an eight-horse field going one mile and 70 yards on the main track, Monzante chased the early pace before stopping, according to the Equibase chart, and was euthanized following the race.
As of the afternoon of July 20 more than 600 individuals had signed the online petition, which asks the NTRA to investigate the circumstances that led to Monzante's death.
Officials with Evangeline Downs and the Louisiana State Racing Commission did not respond to requests for comment.