Monarchos Makes 2002 Debut at Gulf Saturday
Photo: Mike Corrado
Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos makes his 2002 debut Saturday.
John Oxley's Monarchos, winner of last year's Kentucky Derby and Florida Derby, will begin his 2002 campaign Saturday in a $40,000 allowance/optional claiming event. The 1 1/16-mile race will be run as the sixth race on Gulfstream's 12-race card.

Trainer John Ward is using this race as a prep for the $500,000 Donn Handicap on Feb. 9. Monarchos will go off as the overwhelming favorite in the four-horse field. The 4-year-old son of Maria's Mon has been working steadily at Gulfstream, coming off a series of five-furlong works. In his final drill, he breezed his five panels in a sharp 1:01 4/5.

"He's ready," assistant trainer Yvonne Azeff said. "It was either run him or get a very large butterfly net. That's how good he's feeling. He looks unbelievable. He's filled out and has really matured a lot mentally. But that didn't stop him from savaging the pony this morning. Some things don't change. I'm excited about the race; I hope he comes back like everybody anticipates, because we need a big horse in racing."

Jorge Chavez, Monarchos' regular rider, will be aboard under 120 pounds. Monarchos has not run since finishing a well-beaten third in the Belmont Stakes. Following the race, a hairline fracture was discovered in his right knee.

Monarchos certainly likes Gulfstream, having won all three of his starts there last winter, including a spectacular victory in the Florida Derby.

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