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Moni Maker's Legacy Lives On

Published: February 23, 2018 10:20 am ET

Last Comment: February 23, 2018 7:45 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Twenty-five years after the birth of legendary trotter Moni Maker, the connections of her most successful son, O'Brien Award winner International Moni, look to the four-year-old for more on-track success and a potential game-changing breeding career.

International Moni was named Canada's top three-year-old trotting colt of 2017 after winning nine of 15 races and earning more than $620,000. His victories included the Carl Erskine Memorial, a Breeders Crown elimination, a Kentucky Futurity elimination, the Bluegrass, a division of the Simcoe, an elimination of the Hambletonian and a sweep of the Goodtimes for owner Moni Maker Stable of Enfield, CT.

"We're very proud of the horse; he's a special horse to all of us -- our whole family and everybody in the stable, and the breeding farm. We feel he's a culmination of three generations of work," trainer Frank Antonacci told Trot Insider. "A very rewarding horse on a lot of levels and a very successful year."

With an O'Brien Award, a mark faster than 1:52 and a sizable bankroll, International Moni could have been retired for stallion duty. While that future career is certainly on the minds of his connections, Antonacci looked on the bright side of his horse suffering misfortune in a few of the major events -- most notably an interference break in the Hambletonian Final after winning his heat earlier that August afternoon. Those events will bring the son of Love You - Moni Maker back onto the track as a four-year-old and possibly longer.

"A couple of things didn't go his way that I think would have really put him over the top. I'm obviously biased but I think he was the best three-year-old in both countries last year," said "Antonacci. "Things didn't go the right way in a few instances but I also say that maybe that was a blessing because if we'd won those few big races we'd have had a decision to make on racing or not racing. And the way things happened there was no discussion; we all knew that we were going to be racing him for the next couple of years. So we're excited about that."

On paper, few horses have a pedigree that would point to a potential for more success as an older horse than International Moni. Further, Antonacci feels that pedigree combined with his success as a racehorse has the potential to inject fresh blood into North American trotting.

"If there's ever a horse bred to be good for the long-term, it would be him....with the French pedigree and Moni Maker, obviously the outstanding older horse that she was, and just how much he improved from two to three. If he can make any improvement from three to four, he's going to be a special one.

"We've had a tremendous amount of success in the business with stallions and this horse, we think he can reshape the breed for the next 25 years and we want to show the people what he can accomplish on the track and then he'll have a long stud career on his own when that time is right. So we'll be patient and keep racing him as long as he's healthy."

Not only does Antonacci feel his horse has continental appeal, but like his name suggests International Moni can and will attract a global market.

"His pedigree is always going to be there, there's always going to be a market to breed to him...and I think it's going to be a big market. Most of our American stallions, they have a domestic market and, really, that's it. I've already heard from a lot of people, throughout the world, that would want to breed to this horse. He's definitely unique in that respect.

"I don't think there's a mare in Canada or the U.S. that can't be bred to him," said Antonacci with a laugh. "That's obviously a hyperbole but he fits with absolutely everything in a time where we desperately need a commercially-feasible stallion in North America to service those types of mares. That's why I say he's a special horse on so many's just really cool to think about it. Like you said, the horse in theory could have been bred 15 years ago, which is even more surprising."

International Moni (9, inside) holds off Devious Man (1, outside) in the Erskine at Hoosier Park

Racing first as a three-year-old in his Goodtimes elim in June and finishing with the Erksine at Hoosier Park in November, International Moni started and ended victorious. That win in the Erksine was the most rewarding for Antonacci as it both ended his year on a high note against a stellar field of sophomores and reinforced his status among the division's best.

"I've said it all along, he's just the most professional racehorse I've been around and that sounds kind of crazy but he's got a great attitude, loves what he does, takes care of himself, I think that's how he was able to recover from the colic and how he was able to last so long. He's a really good horse."

Behind every really good horse is a really good team. Antonacci notes that the team effort behind this horse is exceptional, starting from his early days as an embryo transfer foal through to his current star racehorse status.

"I don't think there's anybody that would say it was an individual effort. It's a cliche answer but it's a total team effort. Domenico [Cecare] does a great job, his caretaker Carlos does a great job...we really pride ourselves on the fact that nobody in our organization takes a shortcut, said Antonacci. "Obviously there are key individuals close to the horse that did a great job but it's really everybody throughout the organization."

A two-time O'Brien Award winner, Moni Maker earned her share of hardware north of the border but this is the first O'Brien Award win for trainer Antonacci and one he'll most certainly cherish.

"Historically, we've never had horses that were eligible. But then when I saw [the nomination], I said the horse makes the most sense to me to win it. So we were obviously really grateful when he did secure it, he's a horse that deserves the accolades. It's the first O'Brien Award that I've ever won, so it's great and I thank all those that voted for him.

"Dave Reid's such a big part of him and the whole Moni Maker story and he was up there with his wife to accept the award and I was really happy for him to able to do that."

Standardbred Canada Director Mark Horner (left) makes the O’Brien trophy presentation to David and Jeanette Reid.

Looking ahead to 2018, Antonacci reported that International Moni came back in after a short session of turnout and resumed some light exercise in an underwater treadmill while being 'turned out' and trained in 2:15 as of last week. "He's fit, strong, he's training good and loving life as much as he ever has."

Early season plans for International Moni will focus more on the four-year-old stakes events but Antonacci isn't ruling out any of the open races and is eager to test his pupil against the best older trotters in North America.

"The way the season sets up, he could race in those four-year-old races up until about Hambo Day and then try his luck with the open class. That's probably the route that we'll take...but I have full confidence that he'll be able to step up. What The Hill kind of showed that at the end of last year, and no disrespect to What The Hill but he didn't really scare me last year with this horse. Listen, Hannelore [Hanover] is obviously a special animal and she's going to be racing again so that will be fun."

February 23, 2018 - 7:45 pmAll the best with

All the best with International Moni. Great to see that Moni's Makers legacy will live on!

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