Monzante fund helps retire ‘Top Bunk’ horse

Irish Majesty readies for a race

Irish Majesty readies for a race. After 101 starts and more than $500K in wins, he was retired with Bev Strauss of MidAtlantic Horse Rescue through money raised by the Monzante Fund. Photo courtesy Greg Brandow, of

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
Sire: Arch
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!”

In all his conformational glory. Photo by Sue Smith, CANTER PA

In all his conformational glory. Photo by Sue Smith, CANTER PA

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.”

Onto retirement!

Onto retirement!

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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8 responses to “Monzante fund helps retire ‘Top Bunk’ horse”

  1. nicole navarro

    While I see the persons point about. Bbreeders and owners paying fees…honestly I have seen far more showhorses and bz ckyardhorses come to bad ends…if you go to the kill sales over 70% of the horses are former showhorses, broodstock for showstock or back yard pets…some of the worst and most poorly cared for inuries were from back yatd horses…I have seen horrific fractures left to heal or not in back yard horses or rental barns. I have seen show horses nerved or blocked to continue showing. I have seen them given bute banamine abd dex to show day after day for a five day show and yes there are steingent drug rules in place but testing is not frequent as in racehorses. There are good owners, good breedrrs, and good trainers in every discipline from racing to hunter to jumper to barrel racing to dressage polo polo crosse ,
    Western plessure and reining… but it is the bsd apples who get all the press.. there is always room for improvement ..I would like to see the jockey club go to keeping track of ownership the way all the other breeds do…as well as develope some kind of card yhat can be attached to the papers with a statement when it is time for this horse to leave racing please contact the following peolle and any previous owner can put their contact info as pa rt of the horses permanent paoerwork

  2. Bridget

    Fantastic effort – to everyone involved and who care enough. But what a shame the very industry and individuals who made the most from the Life and Death of Monzante, those who can most afford to put something into this “peoples” effort, would seem to be invisible. The betting world reap a multibillion dollar fortune off the backs of horses like Monzante and out of the very pockets of the people who have contributed to this and similar funds and yet I see no contribution (please correct me if mistaken). I am sure I was not alone to be thinking with great sadness that it is 5 weeks since the appalling untimely death of Monzante. The industry at large is a disgrace and reflects badly on those within it whom do a good job, of which I am sure there are many.

  3. Jon

    This war horse will do very well under Bev’s care. Things like this should not happen. At this age these OTTB’s should be living the life of a sport or pleasure horse. Not a racer.

  4. SusanA

    So happy for you Irish Majesty! I prayed that Monzante’s death would not have been in vain… hasn’t been! Thank you to all involved in getting this lovely horse retired safe and sound.

  5. Susan Crane-Sundell

    Tthis is how it should be for all the others too. Retired SOUND, a little tired, but fairly healthy and sound. Irish Majesty is a great legacy to the suffering of Monzante. Congratulations Beverly and thank you to his trainer for being fair to Irish Majesty. May he have a long and healthy retirement.

  6. Otherlyn

    This is a good story with a happy ending. But I wonder, why it takes such a Herculian effort, to get these retired racers to a safe home. Shouldn’t the owner, and the original breeder, have something in place???…a plan, A Insurance Plan…made up of pre-paid fees, that would follow the horse to the end of its days? Breeders should pay a fee into the plan when they sell the horse. Owners should pay the fee to purchase. Horses change hands so many times, so, with every subseuent sale, the previous owner selling the horse, chips in, and so does the buyer. The ‘fee’ goes into a fund that will cover the horse in retirement, and also cover the cost of vetenarian administered euthanasia, when necessary. The Jockey Club should mandate participation in the plan, in order for the horse to be rigistered.

    With something like this in place, horses are likely to not change hands so easily, so often. Nor would we see so many thoroughbreds in feed lots and on slaughter trucks.
    Win Win.

  7. sharon

    Cannot help but think that all the support for the OTTB’s from various organizations in turn will help the sport as well. Attendance at many tracks is sparse.
    I am in the process of adopting my next (and most likely my last as I am 55)
    OTTB have researched her pedigree and see she has a brother still racing and winning how nice it would be to see him run.
    Now would we rather see the excitement of the races than sit at a gaming table?
    Ha.. good luck and God bless for all your work !

  8. Ceil Rock

    Actually, Monsante was not euthanized on the track. He was taken back to the barn and euthanized by a vet. Fractured sesamoids.

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