John C. Oxley's 2001 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos died the morning of Oct. 22, after displaying signs of internal discomfort Oct. 21 and undergoing emergency surgery to repair a ruptured intestine. He was 18.
"He made it through the surgery and we were very hopeful for his recovery, however his age was not on his side, and he was just not strong enough to survive," said Charles Nuckols III of Nuckols Farm, where the son of Maria's Mon stood from 2007 to 2016.
From 512 foals and 349 to race to date, Monarchos produced 244 winners (48%) who earned more than $19 million. He is the sire of 2009 champion female sprinter Informed Decision, 2009 Scandinavian champion 2-year-old colt Aces Star, and 2014 Brazilian champion older mare Estrela Monarchos.
Bred in Kentucky by J.D. Squires out of the Dixieland Band mare Regal Band, Monarchos was offered at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale in 1999, but did not sell until his juvenile season when consigned by Murray Smith to the Fasig-Tipton Florida February sale of 2-year-olds in training. There, Oxley went to $170,000 for the striking gray and sent him to trainer John Ward.
Unplaced in his 2-year-old debut at Keeneland, Monarchos was next entered at Churchill Downs, where he ran third to eventual graded stakes winner Dream Run. He did not race again until his 3-year-old season in Florida, reeling off three consecutive wins, a maiden special weight, an allowance, and the Florida Derby (gr. I) by 4 1/4 lengths.
Shipped to New York for the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. II), Monarchos finished second to Congaree . His game finish set up perfect for a thrilling victory in the Kentucky Derby, where he stopped the clock at 1:59.97 with a 4 3/4-length win—the second-fastest in Derby history. After a disappointing sixth in the Preakness (gr. I), Monarchos returned to run third in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), won by eventual champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year Point Given .
Monarchos made one start at 4, finishing third in a Gulfstream Park allowance, and was retired with earnings of $1,720,830 to stud at Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky. Later in his stallion career he moved to Nuckols Farm near Midway, Ky. He stood the 2016 season for $2,000.
"We are very grateful to John and Debbie Oxley for entrusting their Kentucky Derby winner to our care," Nuckols said. "He was the first horse I saw every morning and the last every night. It's going to be a long time before we put somebody in that paddock.
"Our longtime devoted employees are deeply saddened by this news, as are the many, many fans who visited Monarchos at our farm. He was such a great horse to be around and had the best of temperament. He will be sorely missed."
Erin Shea contributed to this report.