The Louisiana State Racing Commission has concluded that no further action is needed in the case involving the former grade I winner Monzante who broke down and was euthanized following a race at Evangeline Downs July 20.
"The commission is satisfied that everything was done regulatory-wise to ensure the horse was sound to race, and the sense of the commission is there is no further action that needs to be taken," LSRC executive director Charles Gardiner said July 25.
Owned and trained by Jackie W. Thacker, Monzante chased the early pace in the one-mile-and-70-yard race for $4,000 claimers before stopping, according to the Equibase chart. Thacker said Monzante suffered an injury to his right front sesamoids, the small bones located at the back of the fetlock.
After being stabilized on the track by a state veterinarian, Monzante was returned to Thacker's barn where the 9-year-old gelding was euthanized. A son of Maria's Mon bred in Kentucky by Juddmonte Farms, Monzante won eight of 43 starts and earned $583,929.
Gardiner reiterated his previous statements that commission veterinarians had thoroughly scrutinized Monzante's fitness for racing, and the commission is satisfied that all steps that can be taken by regulators to reduce the risk of catastrophic incidents were taken. (See related story)
"Our veterinarians in the field took a very hard and thorough look at this horse and deemed that he was sound to race. That is about the best the regulators can do," Gardiner said. "It is a fine line between a trainers' decision where to run a horse, and it is our job to do the best we can to ensure the safety of the horses and riders. That was done in this case.
"Every horse that is not sound to race is put on a vets' list, and we have a long and tedious process in which to work off the vets' list. We believe that everything was done to ensure the safety of the horse and rider. It was an unfortunate situation. The trainer made the decision to euthanize the horse, and how do you take that right away from the trainer?"
The death of Monzante, winner of the grade I Eddie Read Handicap in 2008, after racing in a low-level claiming race created a backlash on social media, including an online petition calling for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association to look into the horse's breakdown and decision to euthanize him.
Many of those commenting on Monzante's death via social media have questioned how a horse that won a grade I race could end up being euthanized after competing for a $4,000 tag. Some have taken to task those individuals who raced and trained the gelding, questioning why steps were not taken to remove Monzante from competition earlier.
Gardiner said those who have been critical of a lack of action on removing Monzante from racing earlier could have taken that initiative.
"It is a very unfortunate situation, and there were several opportunities to intervene sooner," Gardiner said, noting that Monzante had run in numerous races from which he could have been claimed.
Thacker said July 24 the decision to euthanize Monzante was made to relieve the gelding's suffering and after a thorough analysis of the extent of the injuries.
"You could tell he was in a lot of pain," Thacker said of Monzante, who he claimed for $10,000 in May 2012 at Evangeline from previous owner Christine Hardy. (See related story)