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2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos dies at 18

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MIDWAY, Ky. (AP) Monarchos, whose Kentucky Derby-winning time in 2001 was second only to Secretariat, has died. He was 18.

Nuckols Farm owner Charles Nuckols III confirmed Tuesday that Monarchos died early Saturday after emergency surgery the day before to repair a ruptured intestine.

The grey son of Maria’s Mon and Regal Band by Dixieland Band won four races with a second and three thirds in 10 starts from 2000-2002 and earned more than $1.72 million. Monarchos’ greatest triumph came in the 2001 Derby at Churchill Downs, where he was bumped by Point Given at the start and came from the outside at the stretch to catch Congaree and win by 4 3/4 lengths over Invisible Ink with Congaree third.

His time of 1:59.97 with Jorge Chavez aboard was just behind the 1973 Triple Crown champion’s record 1:59.40.

BloodHorse first reported Monarchos’ passing.

“We didn’t think that much about his time at the time because we were trying to get to the winner’s circle,” Nuckols said. “It didn’t hit us until an hour afterward.”

Monarchos went on to finish sixth in the Preakness and third in the Belmont Stakes. He closed his career as a 4-year-old with a third in an allowance race at Gulfstream.

The Kentucky-bred did not sell until his 2-year-old season when John C. Oxley bought him for $170,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida February sale. Monarchos retired to stud at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky before moving to Nuckols Farm. He sired winners of over $19 million including 2009 Eclipse Award champion female sprinter Informed Decision.

“He was as happy as he could be,” Nuckols said of the horse’s years at his farm. “He was so friendly and easy to get along with. We ran out of guest books because so many people wanted to see him. He was a great horse.”

Nuckols said Monarchos was buried at his farm next to Mr. Leader, another stakes winner.

Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming to skip Belmont Stakes

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NEW YORK — Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming will skip the Belmont Stakes next month after finishing eighth in the Preakness.

Trainer Todd Pletcher says the 3-year-old colt will be pointed toward either the $600,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 29 or the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on July 30, according to the Daily Racing Form.

Trainer Chad Brown says he will wait until after the Memorial Day weekend to announce where Preakness winner Cloud Computing will run next. However, it appears unlikely he will run in the Belmont.

The Belmont field is limited to 16 starters. Besides Classic Empire, who came in second at the Preakness Stakes, other horses expected to run are Conquest Mo Money, Japan-based Epicharis, Gormley, Irap, J Boys Echo, Lookin At Lee, Meantime, Multiple, Patch, Senior Investment, Tapwrit, True Timber and Twisted Tom. Other possibilities are Irish War Cry and Hollywood Handsome.

With no Triple Crown in play, Belmont lacks a singular buzz

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BALTIMORE — Cloud Computing stole the Preakness, and any hope of a Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes.

The 13-1 shot did it on six weeks’ rest, having skipped the 20-horse roughhouse that is the Kentucky Derby even though he had enough points to get in that race. With another three weeks until the Belmont in New York, Cloud Computing could return to run on his home track.

“We haven’t ruled it out,” trainer Chad Brown said Sunday. “We’re just going to evaluate the horse this week and probably by next weekend we may have a decision.”

Cloud Computing didn’t race as a 2-year-old because of injury, so he is among the freshest horses out there.

Brown prefers to give his horses a month or more between starts. Trainer Todd Pletcher also favors long layoffs, although he made an exception to run Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming back in two weeks. The colt responded with an eighth-place finish – the worst of his career – on Saturday.

“He looks good, bright, alert, sound, healthy, happy,” Pletcher said. “We’ll head to Belmont and regroup.”

If the Derby and Preakness winners skip the Belmont on June 10, the likely favorite would be Classic Empire, who was runner-up Saturday after finishing fourth in the Derby.

It would be the first time since 2010 that neither the Derby nor Preakness winner run in the Belmont. That year, Derby winner Super Saver, trained by Pletcher, and Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky sat out the third leg.

Trainer Mark Casse said Classic Empire is being pointed toward the Belmont, barring any unforeseen developments.

“He was a better horse yesterday than he was two weeks ago for the Kentucky Derby,” he said.

Among other horses likely for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont – the longest of the Triple Crown races – are: Senior Investment (third in Preakness), Lookin At Lee (fourth in Preakness) and Japanese invader Epicharis.

Lookin At Lee finished second in the Derby, when Classic Empire was fourth.

Classic Empire and Lookin At Lee would face off for the sixth time in the Belmont, and they could be the only horses to run in all three Triple Crown races. Classic Empire has three victories against Lookin At Lee, including this year’s Arkansas Derby.

“You’re looking at horses that traveled at 2, ran at as high a level as we have, so you’re not surprised,” said Steve Asmussen, who trains Lookin At Lee and won last year’s Belmont with Creator.

“They’ve been able to maintain themselves physically. That puts them in a different position than horses who have not consistently run on that stage.”

Possible Belmont starters are Multiplier (sixth in Preakness) and Conquest Mo Money (seventh in Preakness). Gunnevera (fifth in Preakness) and Hence (ninth in Preakness) won’t run in the Belmont.

Epicharis, one of the top 3-year-olds in Japan, will make his North American debut in the $1.5 million Belmont. That would make him eligible for a new $1 million bonus offered by the New York Racing Association to any Japan-based winner of the race. The winner’s share of the purse is $800,000.

Epicharis would be the second Japanese horse to run in the Belmont. Last year, Lani finished third after running in all three legs of the Triple Crown.