Kentucky Derby Trail: Revenge is Sweet

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BittelRoad

That was really interesting information of I Want Revenge. I think Masala will run well but do you think he is talented enough to win?  I hope Imperial Council cements his status as a Derby contender with a solid effort here.  

04 Mar 2009 1:27 PM
SSC

Great article - so what are your picks for this race? Seems like there are at least 5 horses with a real shot and only 8 entered. Should be a good betting race - don't you think??

04 Mar 2009 1:50 PM
mg

Hi Steve, Very nice article. Couldn’t agree more that I Want Revenge is a well-bred, heart and soul type horse. His Cash Call was exceptional and he displayed the guts and determination you sure love to see in a horse on the Derby trail. His Lewis was just as game, especially if he didn’t grab the surface as believed. The dirt certainly is a big question mark but should he run his race I consider him the horse to beat in the Gotham since Imperial Council is still in the progression stage. You sure can’t fault the connection for taking the gamble, if he fires, he’s back in the Derby picture in a big way, if not, it seems evident we won’t see him again in the Louisville equation.

Also, good call on pointing out a possible big race out of Masala, he could make a big statement on Saturday.

04 Mar 2009 2:21 PM
SSC

post positions just came out

THE GOTHAM

1 Naos(L) B.c.3 116 Luzzi, M Starlight Partners Pletcher, Todd

2 Russell Road(L) Ch.g.3 116 Dunkelberger, T Russell, M Casey, James

3 Masala(L) B.c.3 116 Coa, E Peachtree Stable Pletcher, Todd

4 Axel Foley(L) Dk B/ Br.c.3 116 Migliore, R Singer, J McLaughlin, Kiaran Blk-Off

5 Mr. Fantasy(L) B.c.3 116 Garcia, A West Point Thoroughbreds McLaughlin, Kiaran

6 Haynesfield(L) Ch.c.3 120 Lopez, C Turtle Bird Stable Asmussen, Steven

7 Imperial Council(L) Dk B/ Br.c.3 116 Maragh, R Sequoia Racing McGaughey III, Claude

8 I Want Revenge(L) Dk B/ Br.c.3 116 Talamo, J Lanzman, D Mullins, Jeff

9 Giant Ryan(L) B.c.3 116 Sanchez, J Parbhoo, S Parboo, Bisnath

04 Mar 2009 2:28 PM
Slew.em.All

Thanks Steve,..finally an article covering a Derby Contender(under the radar) other than the "hyped" ones.

I'm more than confident this horse will show and prove he belongs with the Leading Contenders once the Gotham is over with.Come rain or shine,he should relish the dirt track.Though I'm skeptical of that quirky inner-dirt track "somewhat" favoring speed.Even so,he should be motoring down the lane,with plenty of speed lined-up.

Quick question:  do you know if Talamo is flying-out for the mount?..or has Mullins designated the ride towards a local jockey there?(come on Ramon!)..thx.

04 Mar 2009 2:44 PM
Ranagulzion

Like Patena, I can't see how I Want Revenge has merited being in the Derby Dozen at this stage notwithstanding his pedigree and gutsy performance in the Cash Call but I do understand that some selections are sometimes based upon hunches, horseplayer's instinct and plain speculation.  He'd better have the turn of foot to get past Mr Fantasy, Imperial Council and Haynesfield in the Gotham otherwise it still wouldn't necessarily be the end of the Derby road but it would suggest that he is overated at this time.  This month of March is reality check time not only for the horses but also for us Derby prognosticators.  

04 Mar 2009 2:46 PM
Draynay

I am very excited about this race.  I am hoping we are going to see the birth of a champion during this race. I know Mr. Fantasy is the horse for the course and I also know that Haynesfield will be a tough customer here.  However, I cannot get Imperial Council and his 3 races out of my mind.  This horse first time out lost by a neck to Hello Broadway, then won with ease at Belmont. His first race this year was brilliant.  Chasing blazing splits at Gulfsteam Imperial Council again showed great speed and won easy going away.  The 44 half mile split he posted is 2 to 3 full seconds faster than anything he will ever see again and because he is the son of Empire Maker he will have no problem with the 1 1/4 distance. I think we may have a real champion in Imperial Council and a great performance this Saturday and at the Wood will stamp him a Derby favorite.  If he can beat Mr. Fantasy and Haynesfield on their home court there is no stopping Imperial Council from going all the way and lining up against the big boys at the Kentucky Derby.

04 Mar 2009 3:06 PM
zarvona

    Having gotten one of the Va. breds home in "Quality Road" (still awaiting "Charitable Man"'s return)... hmmm... thoughts on the Gotham... the high priced, well bred "Imperial Council", coming off good preps looks tough; the highly touted newbies "Naos" and "Masala", the truly unknown factors looking to raise their stake and make a name for themselves; the highly publicized N.Y.ers: "Haynesfield" (speed or no speed??, yet finally taking on real competition) and "Mr. Fantasy" desperately seemingly wanting to join 'the show'; the once highly touted "I Want Revenge" hoping to rebound on a surface more suitable to his liking; the seemingly fading "Axle Foley" looking to rebound... yet, maybe the hoss that no one is mentioning here and being highly overlooked, possibly the one to keep a watch out for in this one, and one that should get a great price at the window is the unspoken of lil W.Va. bred Charles Town pony, the J. Casey trained "Russell Road" (g) by-Wheaton-(Alydar) at 6 5-1-0 who once ran a 1:09.79 6 fur. himself on the dirt at Laurel! and with  MR. T. Dunkelberger on board!!!,  and that so, especially with “Travis” once having been touted as "the Jockey Who Owns Charles Town"!

04 Mar 2009 4:33 PM
The Wizard

Gotham has a very interesting field. Even though he's spotting the entire field 4 pounds, don't ignore Asmussen's horse.

A fact worth noting: In it's 56 runnings, only ONE winner (Secretariat 1973) went on to win the Derby. In fact, only 3 others even won any Triple Crown race...Native Dancer (Belmont and Preakness 1953) Easy Goer (Belmont '89) and Red Bullet (Preakness 2000). So, keep that in mind.

04 Mar 2009 5:25 PM
zarvona

Best wishes to Anna Napravnik and a hoped for speedy recovery!

04 Mar 2009 6:19 PM
Tiznowbaby

Wizard, do you have tucked away somewhere how many starters (nonwinners) in the Gotham have gone on to win a Triple Crown race? I am curious (and quite lazy today).

04 Mar 2009 7:23 PM
The Wizard

Tiznowbaby,

No, I can't get that info.

By the way, I left off another Belmont winner...in 1962 Jaipur won the Gotham and Belmont.

04 Mar 2009 7:43 PM
Mike Relva

HI STEVE:

While I have respect for I Want Revenge,I don't like the trainer at all.

04 Mar 2009 9:23 PM
Karen in Indiana

Zarvona, I'm rooting for Russell Road as well. He has some nice blood in him, he's been running well,  and he's from a state that doesn't get a lot of respect. This really would be the little guys taking on the big boys. Come to think of it, we could all use a little of that.

04 Mar 2009 10:12 PM
Tiznowbaby

OK Wizard, I dug up some more TC race winners: Red Bullet, Easy Goer, Jaipur and Native Dancer. Kentuckyderby.com says that several Gotham starters have won the Derby, but it didn't list them. (I was feeling a bit less lazy as the night wore on.)

04 Mar 2009 10:33 PM
Justine

This is a lovely article. I Want Revenge has been under the radar for me, and I will now keep an eye on his progress. If his connections think he can do better on dirt (and he sure can run like hell on the synth)...

04 Mar 2009 10:38 PM
Deacon

Winning the Gotham Stakes as a prep for the Derby is interesting. Back in the day winning one of the classic pre-Derby races like the the Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial, Florida Derby, Blue Grass Stakes, etc,etc, was truly an amazing experience and accomplishment. Now owners and trainers are taking more of a benign approach to winning the Kentucky Derby. Horses are much more lightly raced, allowance races and turf races are used as preps. They are so many different synthetic surfaces that one can almost not keep up. This whole thing has become very muddled. Not as much fun as it used to be. But it is still the Derby and flip says Pioneer of the Nile and The Pamplemousse are solid. I think the law of averages say that a western based horse will win it this year. Does Dubai count as it is west of Hawaii..............

05 Mar 2009 12:53 AM
The Wizard

Tiznowbaby:

Yes I know...I already mentioned Native Dancer, Jaipur, Secretariat,  Easy Goer and Red Bullet in 2 blogs above. That's all there is as far as Gotham/Triple Crown race winners. But only Secretariat won the Derby.

Interestingly, the great Native Dancer lost the Derby by a diminishing head after a horrendous trip in 1953...his only loss (21-22) in his marvelous career. One more jump, he would have finished his career the only undefeated Triple Crown winner in history. Check out the video of the '53 Derby on YOUTUBE:

www.youtube.com/watch

05 Mar 2009 3:22 AM
DONNA

I have to agree with Draynay. I think Imperial Council is the one to beat. I'm rather leary of Haynsfield seeing Ramon Dominguez has deserted him for the Califoria races Saturday after he hyped him up so much. I Want Revenge will run a good race and applaude his connections for sending him across country. Still, the Gotham should be a very interesting race and am anxious to see how Mr. Fantasy runs.

05 Mar 2009 9:07 AM
DONNA

Mike R., ditto on Mr. Mullins. He's had his share of problems and not so much on the up and up. After being high on Buddy Gil the year he ran in the Derby leaves me kind of sour on him. I don't know if it was the horse or the trainer that wasn't so good.

05 Mar 2009 9:16 AM
Tiznowbaby

Oops, sorry Wiz, indeed you did. I claim  brain fart (or that laziness!).

Haynsfield is just not a Derby horse for me. Not keen on the breeding. Same with the Mousse, though I love his honesty.

Still holding out crazy hope for Mr. Hot Stuff just because the trainer said the horse is still a big goof. He's got foundation, so if he can pull his stuff together, there's some hope.

Imperial Council is interesting, but he has so much to overcome.

05 Mar 2009 12:14 PM
ElusiveQuality8

I've seen many references regarding the stakes races Derby winners have run in.  How much does this really matter?  Within reason, yes.  The horse should perform exceptionally well against solid company prior to the Derby (i.e. SweetNorthernSaint - not; and goes to post as the FAV).  The calendar has changed, the races (from some) are not even the same distance, surfaces have changed.  The horse has to be (a) fast (not necessarily early, but fast, (b) have a solid pedigree, (c) come into the race well-meant and in great shape and (d) able to strike from mid-pack or closer.  I am not an expert, but I do like to see experts sway the public with their historical angles.  So, please keep up the good work and may the best handicapper win.  Sincerely, thank you for the venue and the attention brought to the Derby season.

05 Mar 2009 2:44 PM
The Wizard

Tiznowbaby:

I agree on Haynesfield as far as Derby distance, but if can duplicate the form he had on Aqueduct's Winter Track to the main track, he sure can win a 1 1/16 miles Gotham.  

My derby horses are no real surprise, but I like Old Fashioned  and Quality Road.

Old Fashioned reminds me a lot of his daddy, Unbridled's Song, who ran such a courageous race in the 1996 Derby on three feet. Led to mid stretch, after going very wide on the turn...bad leg side.

Quality Road is trained by Jimmy Jerkens, who learned his trade by the master, father Allen, greatest trainer of my lifetime. Quality Road looked great in the FOY, winning by 4+lengths,and I was impressed by what Kenneth McPeek, the trainer of the runner up, had to say. "My horse ran great, but believe me the winner is a very, very impressive horse".  

05 Mar 2009 3:05 PM
The Wiizard

Tiznow...just realized they are still using the inner Winter track Saturday. Haynesfield loves this track...can he handle the improved competition?

05 Mar 2009 3:18 PM
Tiznowbaby

Wizard, I really like Mr. Fantasy a bit better. I don't think this is the optimum race for Imperial Council, but it could be a good race for him to move forward from. I'm curious to see what I Want Revenge does.

05 Mar 2009 8:26 PM
Draynay

Steve I just read your new Article "Fastest by Far" and I have to say I am in shock.  I would like Mr. Brown to kindly explain what he is talking about.  Let me post below what he said.

The horse with the second-fastest figure last time out with a 2 1/4 is Imperial Council in his 3-year-old debut. He still has tremendous room for improvement, especially stretching out, which should play to his strength. According to Brown, however, he bounced off his career debut and he has to show he’s not going to bounce again, so he questions whether he can come back with a big effort.. The other brilliant New York-bred, Haynesfield, is coming off an open stakes victory, in which he ran 3 1/2 points slower than Mr. Fantasy. He did run his best number three races back, a “2,” which still is 2 1/2 points slower than Mr. Fantasy’s last and two points slower than Mr. Fantasy’s maiden race. He’ll have to run back to that race, and actually better it to have any kind of chance against Mr. Fantasy, according to Brown. But he does look he'll certainly make his presence felt.

Steve, Mr. Brown said he "Bounced" off his career debut. What? Huh ?

How on earth is a win by 2 1/2 with a mild hand ride a "Bounce?"

www.youtube.com/watch

I implore any and all to watch this race and get back with me and tell me how you can call this performance a bounce...

I find it interesting that Mr. Brown found Mr. Fantasy's performance so good when he posted such average fractions.  A 48.3 ? a 1:13.1 ?  These numbers are very average and open company will expose Mr. Fantasy to REAL fractions.  We will see how he holds up to a 46.5 and a 1:10.5

05 Mar 2009 9:05 PM
joedunaway

You did not mention if I Want Revenge is going to continue with blinkers?

05 Mar 2009 10:16 PM
Coldfacts

Guys, I think some re-handicapping should be done for this race as some important bits of information are being missed. Let me firstly state that Haynesfield will win Saturday's Gotham. The race is between ML favorite Imperial Council and Haynesfield.  Let’s compare both. They both started their racing career a day apart, Imperial Council a January foal and Haynesfield a May foal. In spite of Imperial Council maturity advantage, he has only made three starts compared to his much younger counterpart’s five. Clearly Haynesfield is the structurally sounder of the two. Haynesfield‘s last four races were mere exercise gallops, whereas Imperial Council had to run very hard to win his 3YO debut. In the speed department, handicappers may believe that Imperial Council is faster than Haynesfield.  Let me hasten to highlight the fact that Haynesfield recorded a time of 1:16 1/5 in the deep sand of Belmont Park for his maiden victory.  That was his second start some five months ago Imperial Council recorded a time of 1:16 3/5 for his 3YO debut victory. In the pedigree department the Haynesfield has the advantage. His sire Speightstown had far superior mile speed to Empire Marker. These speedy grandsons of Mr. Prospector i.e., Street Cry, Elusive Quality, Distorted Humor, Quiet American, Unbridled etc., seem to produce the exceptional 3YOs. Haynesfield’s broodmare line is far superior to that of   Imperial Council. The first four dams hail from Deputy Minister, Round Table, Northern Dancer and Mahmoud. Imperial Council’s first four dams hail from Gulch, Secretariat, Lucky Mike and The Pie King. Coincidentally Imperial Council’s third dam Special Warmth, is also the third dam of The Pamplemousse.  In summation, Haynesfield is better bred, tougher, faster and more seasoned than Imperial Council and will defeat him easily.

As for the rest of the field Mr. Fantasy is a sprinter and will not hit the board. His PP reflect that in his last race he was ridden out in fractions of 48, 1:13 with a final time of 1:45 1/5. Haynesfield in contrast was in hand at a similar distance and recorded fractions of 47, 1:11 final time 1:44 2/5.  I Want Revenge should not beat Axel Foley for the minor spots. Axel Foley finished 5 lengths behind I Want Revenge in the Cash Call Futurity after a slow start. The G1 Cash Call Futurity was his third start compared to I Want Revenge’s fifth. It was also his first in the US. In his last start, he race with an equipment change (Blinker) that he clearly didn’t relish. I therefore expect the now more improved Beverly Hills Cop to get the better of I Want Revenge for third. My plate of crow will be very big if I am proven wrong. My Picks are:

Haynesfield

Imperial Council

Axel Foley

I Want Revenge

06 Mar 2009 5:18 AM
Coldfacts

Steve, I do not understand your reason for dedicating a piece to a horse that is one of six. Are you implying that he is more deserving than two of four Flat Out and two of three, Wise Kid? Firstly, I Want Revenge broodmare line has no derby or Triple Crown record. Secondly, he stopped in the last sixteenth in his last two races suggesting he does not want to go further. I do not accept the issue of him not getting a hold of the track. In the Cash Call Futurity he took lead briefly and relinquished it just fast as he took it. He did the same thing in the Robert B. Lewis Stk. The change of surface will not help him. His dam line is just too weak.

Flat Out ran a monster race in the Southwest to finish fourth. Although he was used early to get into contention he was still running at the end. This indicates a stamina pool that is deep. His broodmare line is significantly better than that of I Want Revenge. His first dam was sired by a son of Northern Dancer. Only five of ND’s sons have been broodmare sire of Derby winners. His second dam you have mentioned in the past was sired by Double Jay. Double Jay in addition to being leading broodmare sire in 1971, 1975, 1977, and 1981 is also the broodmare sire for Ferdinand and John Henry. Double Jay’s son Sunrise Flight is was the sire of Sun Colony dam of Pleasant Colony. Certainly Flat Out who appears to be able to run all day has more upside than I Want Revenge.

Wise Kid captured my attention in his first start when he was a troubled second. He is unfortunate not to be one of the still remaining undefeated 3YOs. It is not often you see a debutant accelerate from last along the rails only to lack racing room and when switched out, accelerate again for a NK defeat. Like Flat Out, Wise Kid has an abundance of stamina and is from a broodmare line that is exceptional. His first dam was sired by Seeking The Gold who has sired some of the best fillies to have raced in recent times. His unraced second dam is a daughter of the Secretariat mare Six Crown who was dam of GI winners Chief's Crown. The fourth dam is certainly the best. She is none other than fillies Triple Crown winner Chris Evert.

I think both Flat Out and Wise Kid are far more deserving of an under the radar piece than I Want Revenge.

06 Mar 2009 6:14 AM
Steve Haskin

coldfacts, my assignment was to listen to the NTRA teleconference and write a story. The guest was I Want Revenge's owner David Lanzman, so I wrote a story. I'm sorry I wasted your time and upset you so much.

fyi, I touted Wise Kid when he got beat in a maiden race and will be touting him again in Monday's column. I also like Flat Out. I hope you enjoy that column more than the last one.

06 Mar 2009 9:26 AM
Steve Haskin

joedunaway, neither the trainer nor the owner have a clue what theyre going to do about the blinkers. Mullins obviously will have to make a decision soon.

06 Mar 2009 9:29 AM
Slew.em.All

Coldfacts:

Yes IWR is only 1for6,but he's never been worse than 3rd..he never had the lead in th CC Futurity,but came flying and just missed(1/2 a nose)catching POTN..in the R.B.Lewis he ran similar to what Big Brown ran in the BC Classic where he made the lead maybe a little too early in a surface he might not have cared for all that much.

A fellow commentator on these blogs used the same angle as yours,i.e...(pedigree,d.o.b,etc.) in analyzing his predictions for the Sham and FOY stakes last weekend and both his picks finished-up the track..Don't worry,IWR's female line has plenty of South American and European Classic Distance winning profiles.

06 Mar 2009 3:29 PM
Mike Relva

HELLO STEVE:

Taking Haynesfield for the homerun!

06 Mar 2009 6:27 PM
Draynay

Mike... Haynesfield is not a winner in this race.  6 races and his best Beyer is 93 and he did that last year?  He is a good NY horse but that is it.  No dreams of the Kentucky Derby here.  This is Imperial Council's race to win or lose and any improvement off his last makes him unbeatable here.

06 Mar 2009 11:32 PM
Ranagulzion

Draynay: Imperial Council unbeatable, are you kidding?  So far this is one of the wait and see colts.  Avoid getting ahead of yourself because Mr Fantasy could possibly be showing him a clean pair of heels at the wire.

07 Mar 2009 12:42 PM
Slew.em.All

UnTruths,err..Coldfacts: you were saying?

"Revenge is Sweet",Steve..looks like the Wood Memorial will be a total walk-over for IWR.Unless Pegasus comes down from the clouds and challenges him.

07 Mar 2009 5:34 PM
Michenka

I thought this race would be between IWR & IC. I had thought it would be a fight for the wire. IWR caught IC flat and MR. Fantasy ran a interesting race. This should move him up in the rankings-hooray!

Hard knocking horse!

07 Mar 2009 7:21 PM
GunBow

Good job Steve. You were one of the few turf writers who really stuck his neck out and predicted that I Want Revenge would move up considerably on dirt.  I was right with you, after being somewhat disappointed by his stretch run in the Lewis.  Talamo's comments after the race verified what I saw, a horse full of run that just couldnt get a hold of the synthetic surface.  This is turning out to be a wonderful crop isn't it? Every week it seems a monster or two steps up and runs a hole in the wind.  Alot different from last year when most top contenders fizzled, and only one horse(Big Brown) ran particularly fast.  

08 Mar 2009 3:45 AM
Laura B

Dear Steve -- What a touching story, elsewhere on your blog, about the "'Miracle' at Machmer Hall!"  On another note, would you please let us know what you thought about Nicanor's good second in his second race?  And have you ever written at length (in more than a paragraph or two) about how you got "into" horseracing journalism; if so, would you please let us know where we may find that?  You so clearly love horses; your knowledge is deep and wide-ranging; and you're a terrific and prolific writer to boot!  Many thanks from one of your lucky and loyal readers! ~ Laura B  

08 Mar 2009 6:25 AM
Mike Relva

TO RANAGULZION

What were you saying regarding Mr. Fantasy? lol

08 Mar 2009 3:36 PM
Karen2

Steve...please don't ever apologize for a story you have written. If it doesn't suit someone they can always choose not to read it or furthermore not comment on it. I feel privledged to have your insight and your expertise, especially this close to the Derby. IWR ran a great race and should answer those questions about his ability to handle the dirt. Thank you Slew Em all for pointing that out to coldfacts. Pedigree is important but it isn't everything.

08 Mar 2009 6:16 PM
borntograze

Jeff Mullins had his horse cranked fit. He pulled off the traveling and relocation beautifully. He brought his riding savant, who is connected to the horse like youth are apt to connect, especially under Mullins guiding hand and heart. Mullins is by now up to the challenge to keep I Want Revenge happy and sound through the Triple Crown. Which horse holds the record for the Derby when it was a mile and a half, and where do that horse's roots cross with Mullins?

09 Mar 2009 11:33 AM
VANDAL PA

REVENGE with VENGENCE ON SAT 3-7-09 was FIERCE IN A 2 GUY ROMP umtil 30' short of the yarn. YOU GOT IT RIGHT as usual.

                  v

10 Mar 2009 1:29 AM

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