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.

Irad Ortiz sets single-season record with 77th stakes win

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NEW YORK – Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. earned his record 77th single-season North American stakes victory when he guided Dr B to victory in the $200,000 Go for Wand at Aqueduct.

The 30-year-old native of Puerto Rico broke the old mark of 76 set by the late Hall of Fame rider Garrett Gomez in 2007.

“This is great. Amazing feeling,” said Ortiz, Jr., who won the Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey from 2018-20. “Gomez did it in 2007 and he was a great rider, one of the best in the game. I’m so happy just to be a part of this. I love this sport.”

Ortiz Jr. won the Belmont Stakes with Mo Donegal in June to go with Breeders’ Cup victories in the Juvenile, Filly & Mare Sprint and Sprint. He also earned nine other Grade 1 wins in New York, including Life Is Good in the Woodward and Whitney and Nest in the Alabama and Coaching Club Oaks. He won riding titles at Belmont’s spring-summer meet and Saratoga’s summer meet.

Ortiz Jr. leads North American riders with 304 overall victories this year. His purse earnings totaled over $35.8 million going into Saturday’s races, which already surpassed his single-season record of $34.1 million in 2019.

Appeals court strikes down federal horseracing rules act

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NEW ORLEANS — Congress unconstitutionally gave too much power to a nonprofit authority it created in 2020 to develop and enforce horseracing rules, a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled Friday.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, or HISA, is “facially unconstitutional.”

The authority created by the act was meant to bring uniform policies and enforcement to horseracing amid doping scandals and racetrack horse deaths. But the 5th Circuit – in two rulings issued Friday – ruled in favor of opponents of the act in lawsuits brought by horseracing associations and state officials in Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia.

The Federal Trade Commission has the ultimate authority to approve or reject HISA regulations, but it can’t modify them. And the authority can reject proposed modifications.

Three 5th Circuit judges agreed with opponents of the act – including the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and similar groups in multiple states – that the setup gave too much power to the nongovernmental authority and too little to the FTC.

“A cardinal constitutional principle is that federal power can be wielded only by the federal government. Private entities may do so only if they are subordinate to an agency,” Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan wrote for the panel that ruled in the Texas case.

The same panel, which also included judges Carolyn Dineen King and Kurt Engelhardt, cited the Texas ruling in a separate order in favor of horseracing interests and regulators challenging HISA in a different case.

The chair of the horseracing authority’s board of directors said it would ask for further court review. Friday’s ruling could be appealed to the full 5th Circuit court of the Supreme Court.

“If today’s ruling were to stand, it would not go into effect until January 10, 2023 at the earliest,” Charles Scheeler said in an email. “We are focused on continuing our critical work to protect the safety and integrity of Thoroughbred racing, including the launch of HISA’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program on January 1, 2023.”

The ruling was criticized by Marty Irby, executive director of the Animal Wellness Action organization. “Over the course of three Congresses, the most brilliant legal minds on Capitol Hill addressed the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act’s constitutionality and ultimately decided that the Federal Trade Commission’s limited oversight was sufficient,” Irby said in an email.

Among the subjects covered by the authority’s rules and enforcement were jockey safety (including a national concussion protocol), the riding crop and how often riders can use it during a race, racetrack accreditation, and the reporting of training and veterinary records.

Animal rights groups, who supported the law, pointed to scandals in the industry involving medication and the treatment of horses.

Duncan wrote that in declaring HISA unconstitutional, “we do not question Congress’s judgment about problems in the horseracing industry. That political call falls outside our lane.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, hailed the ruling on Twitter, calling HISA a “federal takeover of Louisiana horse racing.”