by Alan Porter
Although he did not have a graded victory to his name heading into the Eddie Read Handicap (gr. I) July 20, the improving 4-year-old, Monzante had been threatening to achieve a major triumph for some time. Third in the Strub Stakes (gr. II) second time out this year, he then took the Santana Mile Handicap before running unplaced in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II). Those three outings were on all-weather surfaces, and when switched to the turf for the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. I) — his only other start prior to the Eddie Read — Monzante produced a four-wide rally that fell just a neck shy of catching winner Artiste Royal (IRE).
Bred by Juddmonte Farms in Kentucky, Monzante actually started his career in England. At 2, he won one of three starts, taking a mile maiden event on the all-weather at Kempton Park. He also made three starts in England the following year, but with less success. Third on his debut, he then finished fourth in the Aktiv Kapital UK Ltd. Dee Stakes (Eng-III) and last of six to the subsequent Ladbrokes St. Leger (Eng-I) winner Lucarno in the Onerailway.com Fairway Stakes. Sold for 100,000 guineas at the 2007 Tattersalls Newmarket July sale of horses of racing age, Monzante started once in the U.S. last year, winning an 8 1/2-furlong all-weather allowance at Hollywood Park.
Monzante’s victory underlines the loss suffered by the industry from the death of his sire, Maria’s Mon, last year at only 14 years of age. By the Majestic Light horse Wavering Monarch, Maria’s Mon earned honors as champion of what turned out to be an exceptionally strong juvenile crop. Winning four of his five starts at 2, Maria’s Mon captured the Sanford Stakes (gr. III) and the Futurity and Moet Champagne Stakes (both gr. I), and accounted for such as Unbridled's Song, Hennessy, Honour and Glory, Louis Quatorze, Gold Fever, and Editor’s Note. Maria’s Mon raced twice at 3 years without winning. This, coupled with a less-than-fashionable pedigree, saw his fee set at just $7,500 when he retired to Pin Oak Stud in Versailles, Ky.
From that inexpensively-sired first crop came 10 stakes winners, headed by Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos and graded winners Wander Mom and Silver Tornado. Maria’s Mon sired six more stakes winners in his second crop, including grade I winner See How She Runs, but none in his third, which at 58 foals was his smallest to date. Monarchos’s Kentucky Derby came in 2001 and as a result, Maria’s Mon’s book or mares for the next few years were of much higher quality. Having sired one graded winner from his fourth crop and four from his fifth, Maria’s Mon really took off with his 2003 crop — the first conceived after Monarchos’s 3-year-old campaign — which included the champion turf filly Wait a While; Malibu Stakes (gr. I) winner Latent Heat; Dwyer Stakes and Super Derby (both gr. II) victor Strong Contender; Cause to Believe, successful in the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III); and Criminologist, who took the Athenia, Cardinal, and Beugay Handicaps (all gr. III). Monzante is the first graded stakes winner from Maria’s Mon’s 2004 crop, but his current 3-year-olds include Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) victor Monba; the Dwyer Stakes winner Mint Lane; and the WinStar Sunland Park Oaks winner Sky Mom.
Monzante’s dam is the well-bred and accomplished Danzig daughter Danzante. Like Monzante, she began her career in Europe, where she took the Criterium d’Evry, finished second in the Prix de Seine-et-Oise (Fr-III), and third in the Prix du Calvados and Prix de Meautry (both Fr- III). In the U.S. at age 4, Danzante won twice and took second in the Wilshire Handicap (gr. II) and third in the Buena Vista Handicap (gr. III). Danzante was 16 years old when she foaled Monzante, and among her earlier foals are Alpha Plus, a Mr. Prospector son who was a listed winner and group-placed in France, and that horse’s similarly-bred half-sister Tentative (by Distant View), who was listed-placed at 2 in England.
Danzante is a half-sister to four other stakes winners headed by the excellent Skywalker. A son of Relaunch, Skywalker captured five graded events including the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) at 3 and the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) — defeating Turkoman and Precisionist — at 4. Danzante is also half-sister to Nidd (by In Reality’s son Known Fact, and therefore a close relative to Bertrando), winner of the Prix de la Porte Maillot (Fr-III); to the Malibu Stakes (gr. II) winner Pac Mania; and to stakes winner Royal Captive.
Monzante’s granddam is Bold Captive, a daughter of Boldnesian, won 10 of 29 starts over three years, earning black type with a win in the Liberation Handicap. The third dam, Captive Audience, is an unraced sister to the minor stakes winner Iron Warrior, but is more interesting for the similarities between her pedigree and that of Natalma, dam of Northern Dancer. Captive Audience and Natalma are both by Native Dancer, and Captive Audience’s fifth dam, Mother Goose, is third dam of Natalma. (Further back in their pedigrees, Captive Audience’s fourth dam, Gooseflesh, is bred on particularly similar lines to Arbitrator, the granddam of Natalma). Since Danzante is by Northern Dancer’s son Danzig, she has both Natalma and Captive Audience close up in her pedigree. We can also note that Danzante’s paternal grandsire, Northern Dancer, and maternal grandsire, Boldnesian, are both Nearco/Polynesian crosses (as is Danzante’s dam, Bold Captive, who is inbred 3 x 3 to Polynesian).
Monzante —who is rated A++ by TrueNicks — is a complete outcross at five generations, but it is interesting that his sire, Maria’s Mon, is a product of an extended version of the Polynesian/Nearco cross.