Q-Racing Blog: Moonist

Here's a toast to a tremendous horse.

Quarter Racing Journal

Here's a toast to a tremendous horse.

Everyone who has been connected to a horse has probably lost a horse. It’s never easy.

It’s not easy whether you are a horse neophyte or have decades of veteran experience, like owner Ron Harley, trainer John Cooper, jockey Cesar DeAlba and their families. They are the connections of champion Moonist, who was euthanized after an attack of colic on Tuesday, June 21.

All of Quarter Horse racing is sad. Everyone who saw him run at Los Alamitos is sad. It’s a sad time.

Moonist left his eternal mark on Quarter Horse racing. The Separatist-sired gelding went out on top as the fastest-qualifier to the $150,000 Vessels Maturity (G1) to be run on July 3. He would have been the solid favorite.


Here are the stats. The gelding was honored as the 2014 champion 3-year-old and 3-year-old gelding and then last year was the champion aged horse and champion aged gelding. He won 24 of 34 starts, all at Los Alamitos, and earned $878,468. He is the only horse to win four derbies at Los Alamitos.

His trainer, John Cooper, fittingly described him as "the John Henry of Quarter Horse racing."

His owner, Ron Hartley, released a statement through Los Alamitos' media: “I’d like to thank everyone for the love and appreciation they’ve shown for Moonist," he said. “My grandson was telling me about all the messages he was getting and seeing on social media about Moonist and it’s quite overwhelming and touching to see how much this horse was liked and enjoyed by so many people. Moonist has been a member of our family and loved by so many in the horse racing family as well. Bonnie Vessels, who bred Moonist, was one of the first call me this morning after she heard the news. We’ve heard from so many people from all over the country. It’s been touching. There’ll never be another one like him for me. He’s one in two million.” 

Let’s honor Moonist and his connections with a recollection of his stakes wins.

2013 Golden State Juvenile (R)
Moonist had finished second in the Governor’s Cup Futurity and won his Golden State Futurity trial, but his time was not quick enough to make the finals. He made the best of his options by opening up a large lead in the Golden State Juvenile and rolled to a neck victory.

2013 Los Alamitos Two Million Juvenile (R)
After finishing a troubled fourth in his trial, Moonist made amends in the Los Alamitos Two Million Juvenile. It was pretty much the same story as the Golden State Juvenile. He went to the front and easily scored a one-half length victory. It was the first time that DeAlba rode Moonist; the jockey was up for the remainder of his outs.

2014 El Primero Del Ano Derby (RG3)
This was the first of his record four derby wins at Los Alamitos. It was the second start in a string of 17 starts in which he was the favorite. Employing his usual tactics, Moonist started on the lead and there wasn’t a horse in the field who could think of matching him. He won by one-half length at 11-10 odds.

2014 Governor’s Cup Derby (RG3)
Moonist had more of a fight in the Governor’s Cup Derby. His rivals raced with him until it counted and the he pulled out to the one-half length score over Foose Is Loose.

2014 Golden State Derby 

2014 Golden State Derby (G1)
This race was a tour de force and showed that he could become among the Los Alamitos-based great racehorses. He made good horses look common when he drew out to a 1 3/4-length domination as the 7-10 favorite.

2014 PCQHRA Breeders’ Derby
The Breeders’ Derby backed up the Golden State Derby. Moonist had a little trouble at the start, however was at an historic level and he blew away his over-matched competition to win by 1 3/4 lengths.

2015 Katella Handicap
After a very narrow nose defeat in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship (G1) to champion Matabari, Cooper dropped Moonist into this minor stakes and it was, essentially, getting paid for a workout. He just opened up three quarters of a length and easily maintained that margin to the finish line.

2015 Kaweah Bar Handicap (G3)
Another tremendous victory, a length the best, over a field including multiple Grade 1 winner Far Niente, champion Jake Gold BR, etc.

2015 Spencer Childers California Breeders’ Championship (RG1)
The Childers Championship started an incredible three-race run for Moonist. He won by 2 1/4 lengths and that was the largest winning margin he had in a stakes race during his career. He went off at 3-10 odds and looked the part as he just rolled down the inside rail while under a confident hold.

 2015 Go Man Go Handicap

2015 Go Man Go Handicap (G1)
Making his eighth start in 2015 alone, he again romped to a daylight victory over a Grade 1 field, notching his 10th stakes win.

2015 Robert L Boniface Los Alamitos Championship (G1)
Moonist was making his first start at 440 yards and the race was over at the start. The gelding got a clear break and went to the lead. Far Niente tried to make a challenge, but it was never threatening and Moonist won by one-half length after DeAlba tapped him one time.


2016 Los Alamitos Winter Championship 

2016 Los Alamitos Winter Championship
Moonist had lost to Heza Dasha Fire in the Champion of Champions, but despite having defeated Heza Dasha Fire in their Winter Championship trial, Heza Dasha Fire was still the favorite in the Los Alamitos Winter Championship at 3-5 and Moonist was 6-5. Moonist got the jump at the start and Heza Dasha Fire came running at him during the last half of the 400-yard contest. Moonist would not let Heza Dasha Fire get to his throatlatch and Moonist won by one-half length in what was to be his final stakes victory. While this year's record will show only one stakes victory, he was undefeated in four starts and defeated a worthy world champion twice.

A tremendous record for a tremendous horse. He was surrounded by the best people. God bless them. This one hurts, and will hurt for a while.

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