Winning the Kentucky Derby in the second fastest time in history, Monarchos was sent off as the sixth betting choice in the 2001 edition of the race.
Monarchos traveled to Saratoga from his home state of Kentucky as a yearling to sell in the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale of selected yearlings but returned home when he wasn’t sold. After being privately purchased later that year, the Maria’s Mon colt sold for $170,000 at a Florida 2-year-olds in training sale in 2000.
1998 Gray or Roan Horse
Sire: Maria’s Mon
Dam: Regal Band, by Dixieland Band
Major Accomplishments: Kentucky
By the time Monarchos loaded into post-position 16 at the Kentucky Derby, he had won the Florida Derby and finished second in the Wood Memorial Stakes, both important Kentucky Derby preps. Monarchos was 13th at the first call but slowly made his way through the field, winning the race by 4 ¾ lengths. Monarchos completed the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby in a time of 1:59.97, second behind only Secretariat’s 1:59.40 and faster than Northern Dancer’s 2:00 flat.
“Nothing could be more exciting, more incredible, more thrilling, more astonishing, more unbelievable than today,” owner John Oxley told the Blood-Horse after the win. “Each one of those milestones in your life where at that time, seemingly the most exciting, the most important, and thrilling day with your spouse, but there's nothing like winning the Kentucky Derby.”
Monarchos’ Triple Crown dreams stopped in the Preakness Stakes when the colt was no better than sixth in any point of call in the race. His sixth-place finish marked the first time Monarchos had finished off the board since his career debut.
The 1 ½ miles of the Belmont Stakes was more to Monarchos’ liking but a 12 ¼-romp by Kentucky Derby favorite Point Given kept the Derby winner out of the winner’s circle. The battle between Monarchos and A.P Valentine was a tighter affair at the finish line with A.P Valentine beating Monarchos by just three-quarters of a length for second.
The Belmont was the last race Monarchos was entered in as a 3-year-old after he suffered a hairline fracture in his right knee a few weeks after the race. He ended the season with a 3-year-old record of four wins, one second, and one third in seven starts.
After a few months off, Monarchos shipped to Florida to prepare for his 4-year-old season. Nineteen days after officially turning four, Monarchos made his return in an allowance race. The race did not goes as planned when he finished a distant third, 8 ¾ lengths behind winner Mongoose, who would go on to win the Donn Handicap in his next race.
The allowance race was Monarchos’ curtain call, as the colt was retired after suffering an injury while preparing for the Donn Handicap.
“He dinged himself, and I didn't think that much about it,” said John Ward, Monarchos’ trainer. “But he didn't seem himself after that, so we had an ultrasound done on him. It showed that he injured a ligament below the left front ankle.”
CATCHING UP WITH MONARCHOS
Monarchos was sent to Claiborne Farm to stand at stud that year for $25,000. Even though the stallion started the breeding season late due to his injury, he still had 59 foals in his first crop with 30 winners.
After six years at Claiborne, Monarchos was moved to Nuckols Farm for the 2008 season. The stallion still stands there today.
Through April 4, Monarchos has 433 foals of racing age with 195 winners. Monarchos’ most accomplished runner is Informed Decision, the winner of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint and the champion female sprinter that year. Monarchos also is the sire of Scandinavian champion Aces Star and Win Willy, an American graded stakes winner. Overall, Monarchos’ foals have won more than $15.3 million.
As a broodmare sire, Monarchos’ daughters have 116 foals of racing age with 30 winners and three graded stakes winners for more than $1.4 million in earnings. Monarchos’ broodmare sire career is still young as his first daughters are only 10 years old, giving him a chance to make a bigger impact on the breed as his daughters have more foals.
Monarchos’ career as a sire of stallions also has barely had time to get off the ground. He only has five stallions standing at stud with only one having foals older than two. That stallion, Harborage, is out of the bluehen mare Get Lucky. From four crops of racing age, Harborage has 18 starters and five winners.
In 2004, Monarchos' breeder Jim Squires published a book about the stallion. The book, titled Horse of a Different Color, talks about Monarchos’ road to the Derby and Squires experience on that road as his breeder.
In 2012, Monarchos survived two bouts of colic. In his second battle with the illness, he underwent months of rehabilitation before returning to the breeding shed in 2013.
Ten years after Monarchos initial crop hit the ground, Monarchos is expecting 24 foals in his 2013 crop.
Even today, Monarchos attracts fans visiting Kentucky, 12 years after his Kentucky Derby win.
"It's just amazing [how many people visit him year round],"Charles Nuckols III of Nuckols Farm said. "People send him bags of peppermints. We don't have to worry about buying them because they know he likes them."
Monarchos' relationship with fans can be seen in a guestbook kept by his stall that all fans visiting the stallion sign. Even though it was started two years after he moved to Nuckols Farm, it is obvious from the many pages filled in the book that he is loved by fans from all over the country.