Monarchos was an impressive winner of the 2001 Florida Derby.

Monarchos was an impressive winner of the 2001 Florida Derby.

Associated Press/Equi-Photo/Bill Denver

Family Matters: Monarchos

Monarchos (Maria's Mon -- Regal Band, by Dixieland Band) posted his first stakes win in the Florida Derby (gr. I) to remain undefeated this year. The March 10 race was his first attempt in stakes company in five lifetime starts.

Jim Squires bred Monarchos in Kentucky at his Two Bucks Farm near Versailles. Squires described his program as a "middle market program" and said his goal is to not to breed commercially, but to raise and sell a racehorse. "I would think the greatest accomplishment is to have a horse the quality of Monarchos that is affordable," Squires said.

Squires purchased Regal Band in 1995 at the Keeneland January mixed sale. After her first foal died, her second had problems, and her third pregnancy was aborted, her owner and breeder, Darby Dan Farm, consigned her to the sale. Squires said he stopped bidding at $14,000, when he realized he was bidding against the reserve. Regal Band was bought back at $15,000, then Squires purchased the mare privately minutes later.

"She has a summer sale quality pedigree," he said. "I was lucky to get the bloodlines. She's a little mare with a big stride, which I kind of like. She walks big and greased, like someone just oiled her up. She has a big, loopy stride for a Northern Dancer-looking mare, which suggests she could throw some length and some size."

It takes going back a couple generations to find the black-type core of Regal Band's female family, but once there, the print is jet black. The fourth dam of Monarchos is On the Trail, the dam of grade I winner Andover Way. Other stakes winners under her include Darby Creek Road, Dynaformer, Regal Road, and Tuxedo Junction. Another generation back is Golden Trail, the dam of On the Trail. Falling in under Golden Trail are Darby Dan performers Memories of Silver and her stakes-winning half-sisters Memories and Memories of Gold, plus grade I winners Brian's Time, Ryafan, and Sunshine Forever.

Squires said he chooses stallions he thinks were great racehorses. "I saw Maria's Mon run and thought he was the best of that wonderful class (of foals of 1993 which include Hennessy, Louis Quatorze, and Unbridled's Song). He was exactly what fit my program." At $7,500 as a first-year stallion of 1997, Maria's Mon fit the pocketbook as well. He still stands at Pin Oak Stud near Versailles. For 2001 his fee was raised to $12,500.

Murray Smith was the first person to visit Squires' farm to view yearlings early in 1999. Squires said he purposely priced the colt high at $100,000, in hopes of scaring off potential buyers so he could keep the colt. It didn't work. Smith called minutes after leaving the farm and said she would buy Monarchos. "I had a lot of good horses, and naturally she picked the best one," Squires said. At that point, Monarchos had already been accepted to the Fasig-Tipton August yearling sale at Saratoga as a member of Fred Seitz' consignment. Squires asked that if Smith planned to sell the colt as a yearling, that he remain with Seitz. She agreed.

At Saratoga Monarchos did not meet his reserve and was bought back at $90,000. The following February Smith consigned the colt to the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of 2-year-olds in training. There John Oxley paid $170,000 for the future Florida Derby winner.

Monarchos made his first start last October at Keeneland for trainer John Ward. The colt finished eighth of 12 maidens that day going seven furlongs. Six weeks later he tried again at Churchill Downs in a 6 1/2-furlong event. He was third.

Monarchos broke his maiden in a seven-furlong maiden race at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 13. On Feb. 3 he won his first allowance, going 8 1/2 furlongs in 1:43.31. That day he faced a strong field of 10 rivals and defeated Distilled by 4 3/4 lengths .

Maria's Mon was named champion 2-year-old of 1993 based on wins in the Champagne (gr. I), Futurity (gr. I), and Sanford (gr. III). However he suffered a displaced condylar fracture in his left front ankle, which prevented him from contesting the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). Instead that race went to Unbridled's Song.

Monarchos is only the second stakes winner by Maria's Mon. The sire attempted to come back as a 3-year-old, but retired after he was no better than second in two starts.

None of the horses in the first two generations of Monarchos' pedigree had an average winning distance over 8 1/2 furlongs; the closest being Wavering Monarch at 8.17. However, Caro, Northern Dancer, and Roberto all show up in the third generation and could add staying power. Squires, who has a half-brother to Monarchos in training, described his colt as a hard trier and a quality athlete.

Dosage for Monarchos is 1.40, with a +0.28 center of distribution. His dosage profile is 2-2-13-1-0. Monarchos is not a dual qualifier, because he did not rank on the Experimental Free Handicap.