I Want Revenge could have been bought for $100,000 when he was offered in the 2008 Barretts May sale of 2-year-olds in training, according to Dave Showalter, who had the colt in his NexStar consignment. But the dark bay or brown son of Stephen Got Even ended up being bought back for $95,000 and returned to his breeder, David Lanzman, who has seen the colt develop into a top Triple Crown candidate with a victory in the Gotham Stakes (gr. III).
"The thing is, I don't pound on the babies," Showalter said. "He was a very nice colt, and I think he looked fine. He was carrying the proper amount of weight going into the sale, but he was slightly immature. I just think it was the market in California; the money wasn't there for him. But, I guess, the biggest fact of the matter is that the highest-priced Stephen Got Even (2-year-old) sold last year (in North America) brought only $50,000. We led him through to sell, but the market just didn't support him."
I Want Revenge worked an eighth of a mile in :10 2/5 prior to the Barretts auction. "It was really a solid move," Showalter said. "When the rider just kind of softened on him at the wire -- and basically quit being busy on the horse -- I Want Revenge got faster. He went out in :21 3/5, and it was a beautiful move - one of the prettiest gallop outs I've ever seen. He just swooped around that turn (at Fairplex Park). And by no means was he being asked; I think they caught him in :34. It was just simply him with his ears pricked forward and just kind of liking the day. He has such a big, efficient stride."
Following the under tack show, "David, my wife, Sommer Smith, and I had a conversation, and at that time, we thought we had a two-turn horse," Showalter said. "We knew he was very talented and we knew, for a fact, that he could be a maiden-special-weight winner in California. But we just didn't know how truly good he was. We thought, ‘When we start going two turns with the horse, then we'll see what we really have.' " Looking back, Showalter is happy with how the whole sale experience turned out. "There is a fine line in what we do at the 2-year-old sales," he said. "My job was to offer him for sale and show him breezing, but to keep him sound and keep those X-rays clean. I achieved that. He came out sound, and everything was cold and tight. I did my job."
Showalter and Smith operate 25-acre NexStar Ranch near Temecula, Calif. I Want Revenge arrived at NexStar in July of his yearling year.
"We have some grass paddocks here, so we turned him out on the grass pasture with some other colts, and you could just see that big stride of his when he was out there with the other babies," Showalter said.
According to Showalter, I Want Revenge "has more personality than Ray Charles had piano keys." The colt, when he was at Barretts, proved to be a talented escape artist.
"He was a little Houdini," Showalter said. "We just had webbings and stall chains at the top and the bottom of the stall that were crisscrossed at the top. He would just take his mouth, and he would, basically, unclip the straps and just let himself out of the stall. Then he would just stand there like he was thinking, ‘Hey, hey, look what I can do.' So I ended up closing his stall door. At Barretts, the bottoms (of the doors) are full with bars at the top. Then he takes his nose and starts kind of pulling on the door, and he was able to break the snap off on the inside andt hrow the door open and then just let himself out. Finally, we started taking and putting double chains on the door and latching them to the stall next to it. And that's how we finally ended up keeping him in his stall."
But that didn't stop I Want Revenge never gave up trying to break out.
"He was always trying to figure out how he could do it," Showalter said. "It gave him something to occupy his time throughout the day, and he seemed to think he could undo those chains somehow, he just needed to figure out how. It was like he had a plan."