After nine-year-old Grade 1 winner Monzante died folowing a low-level claimer race last month, a grassroots fundraising effort begun in his name, in his honor, to help seasoned campaigners like the once-beautiful gray meet a better end, saw its efforts come full circle in the safe-and-sound retirement of another seasoned campaigner.
With money raised through the Monzante Memorial Challenge, 10-year-old seasoned campaigner Irish Majesty was retired sound after running his last race Aug. 14 at Penn National, and is now in the hands of Beverly Strauss of MidAtlantic Horse Rescue.
Majesty had 101 starts and earned more than $500,000 in his lifetime on the track when Sue Smith, executive director of CANTER PA noticed the pretty bay wasn’t hitting the board as he once had.
Race name: Irish Majesty
Dam: Joy of Ireland, by His Majesty
Foal date: March 11, 2003
Earnings: $526,052“He wasn’t a super high-profile horse, but he was extremely well bred, and had been extremely successful, but he did it the hard way. He didn’t run a stakes race, but he kept chipping away at it,” Smith says of Majesty. “I’m not 100 percent sure how I first heard about him. He was on the Top Bunk List, and I guess I started paying more attention to him last year, when he stopped hitting the board.”
Then in July, when Monzante broke down in his 43rd start and was euthanized on the track, awareness of older racehorses put him at the front of her mind just as Danonymous Racing launched the Monzante Memorial Fund, Smith explains.
The Memorial Challenge raised a total of $7,000 to be dispersed to top Thoroughbred charities, with $2,000 going to well-respected charity MidAtlantic Horse Rescue and its executive director Beverly Strauss.
“Right before the end of the fundraiser, we got a call and were told we were in the lead for the most number of donations,” Strauss says. “Somebody donated his whole paycheck to the challenge!”
She adds, “I was just blown away. When the challenge ended, we had this un-looked-for support from racing fans, and a check came to me for $2,000 in early August.”
Strauss didn’t have to ponder long how to spend her windfall.
Irish Majesty ran terribly on Aug. 14, and the next morning the horse’s owner and trainer called her saying he was ready to sell. “The man clearly really cared about the horse,” Strauss says. “He stayed on the phone with me, going on and on about each of the horse’s little idiosyncrasies.”
She notes that Majesty had been given lots of time off, and his trainer theorized his star horse “got smart” and realized he preferred life on the farm to life on the track.
So with a smile, Strauss and the trainer negotiated a price, and Majesty arrived at her Chesapeake City, Md. farm, a little tired, but sound. So far, he seems to be doing great, she says, adding, “He took off like a bat out of hell when he was turned out.”
Smith notes that while breakdowns occur in horses of all ages and demographics, the Monzante breakdown drew attention to older racehorses on the track. Though Irish Majesty was very well treated on the track, she says she was happy that out of a tragedy came a good ending for a very deserving campaigner.
“The ones who race a long time need a special person to help them transition from racetrack to farm life,” Smith says. “I was hoping to get someone really experienced to take Irish Majesty, and Bev was the first person who came to mind. She always keeps the horse’s interest in mind, and is known for doing very smooth transitions.”
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