March means many things to owners and trainers of horses on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trail. There’s the nail-biting, the sleepless nights, and the early morning phone calls that every owner dreads. And for many it sadly means the end of the road.
But with March also comes the realization for a fortunate few that they have a legitimate
When the Gotham Stakes (gr. III) was over and I Want Revenge had destroyed his field by 8 1/2 lengths, it meant the end of the road for most of the participants. But for I Want Revenge’s owner and breeder David Lanzman and his wife Desirae, trainer Jeff Mullins, and jockey Joe Talamo, the Twin Spires were now in clear sight, and it was apparent they were already getting high on the scent of roses.
A jubilant Lanzman planted a kiss on I want Revenge and told Talamo, “Be back in four weeks, baby,” referring to the April 4 Wood Memorial (gr. I). Desirae then gave the colt a pat on the forehead and said just one word to him, which best described his performance: “Awesome.”
I Want Revenge became the first horse on this year’s
His trainer has won three consecutive Santa Anita Derbys and has been to the Kentucky Derby four times, with his best finish a solid fifth by Buzzard’s Bay in 2005.
His jockey has shown he has natural talent, but at age 19, he must make sure he remains an asset and not a liability when it comes to the
With that said, he has ridden the horse flawlessly from a tactical standpoint, and obviously the two get along great with each other. If this were any other situation, there would be no issues. But the
With all the pressure that comes with the Derby, even for veteran riders, and with the TV show “Jockeys” being renewed for a second season and filming to begin soon, Talamo has to keep his head on his shoulders and show a maturity beyond his years, just as Steve Cauthen did, if he’s going to win the Derby. OK, that’s our lecture for the month.
I Want Revenge, a son of Stephen Got Even , out of the Argentine-bred Meguial, by
“He was never comfortable on that track,” Mullins said. “They had gotten a bunch of rain and the track was spotty, and never did get hold of it.”
Lanzman added, “We were so confident going into in the Lewis. At the top of the stretch we almost started walking down to the winner’s circle. Even Joe said it was just a question of how much he was going to win by. But he never kicked it in. When I talked to Joe he said the horse was just spinning his wheels. Watching him struggle with that surface, we decided right then to come here and put him on the dirt. I raced his dam, and when we ran her on anything but firm dirt she got her butt kicked. But when we ran her on firm dirt she ran great.”
Lanzman, who won the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Sprint with Squirtle Squirt, bought Meguial privately after she had finished second in the group I Argentine Oaks and Argentine 1,000 Guineas. “I’m not in the breeding business; this was my first broodmare,” Lanzman said. “I spent hours on eNicks looking for a mating, and Stephen Got Even is who came up on the screen with the most quality points.”
Mullins agonized all week whether to keep the blinkers on I Want Revenge, not knowing if they helped or hurt him in the Robert Lewis, or whether they had no effect at all. It wasn’t until the day of the race that he made his decision.
“I watched a few races here and saw the way the track was playing and figured I’d leave them on,” he said.
The biggest surprise in the
“He came out the race fine and is on his way back to
West Point’s Terry Finley said after the race that Mr. Fantasy likely will not continue on the
Lanzman, who celebrated his birthday the day before the
After the race, Desirae watched the replay, and as I Want Revenge drew off, she again used few words to describe what everyone was feeling: “Oh…my…God.”
Euros Vie for Spot in
Although we can expect a bit of controversy when the American horse with the 20th highest graded earnings gets left out of this year’s Run for the Roses, we all have to face the fact that there is an automatic spot open to the winner of the Kentucky Derby Challenge at
From the looks of it, there could be several interesting 3-year-olds looking for that spot.
One horse who has had designs on the Derby Challenge Stakes is Markyg, an English-trained son of Fusaichi Pegasus , out of the Storm Cat mare Spring Pitch who is two-for-two on Kempton’s all-weather track and certainly bred for the dirt.
Markyg, trained by Karl Burke, proved a useful 2-year-old on grass, with his best effort coming in a third-place finish at odds of 22-1 in the seven-furlong Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Following a disappointing fourth against maidens at
Markyg was a $110,000 buy-back at the Keeneland September yearling sale. Sent to the Tattersalls April 2-year-old sale he was sold for $206,913 to the BBA Ireland, acting for Maura Gittins.
Another promising colt heading for Kempton is Team Valor’s Gitano Hernando, an easy winner at
Some of the leading trainers in
Aidan O’Brien is considering Born to be King, a maiden winner at Gowran Park by Storm Cat; Chief Lone Eagle, a maiden winner at Leopardstown by Giant’s Causeway; or Great Wisdom. John Gosden, who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic with Raven’s Pass last year, lists as possibles: Nawaadi, a son of El Corredor who won his only career start on Polytrack at Great Leighs; Close Alliance, also a maiden winner on the Polytrack at Great Leighs; Mafaaz, who won on Polytrack at Kempton in his career debut; and Red Spider, a son of Red Ransom who was an impressive winner on Polytrack at Kempton before running poorly in the group I Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on grass.
Other Challenge possibles are Deposer (John Best), the intriguing filly Pachattack (Gerard Butler), Haashad (Mark Johnston), and Formula and
Bubbling under the surface
It is now March 10. Is it possible there are still so-called under-the-radar horses out there that many people aren’t that familiar with?
The answer is yes, and several will show up this weekend looking to catapult themselves near the top of the
One horse who caught our attention when he finished a close second in a maiden race despite a nightmare trip is Wise Kid, who has since come back to win his next two races at Oaklawn. In that maiden race, the son of Lemon Drop Kid , trained by Tim Ritchey, overcame a bad start and traffic problems along the inside and still was beaten only a neck by Buzzin and Dreamin, who came right back in the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) off that race and finished a solid third at 64-1 behind consensus Derby favorite Old Fashioned .
Wise Kid had a clean trip next time out, made big run from 11 lengths back, and was able to wear down a loose-on-a-big-lead Good Sermon, who had been third, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, in the aforementioned maiden race. The margin likely would have been greater had Wise Kid not kept lugging in during the stretch run. Good Sermon boosted the form by coming back and breaking his maiden next time out by 2 3/4 lengths.
In Wise Kid’s next start, Ritchey got permission from the stewards to add blinkers off a victory in order to correct the colt’s greenness. Wise Kid ran into Buzzin and Dreamin again, who trainer Wayne Lukas was sending right back in 11 days. This time, Buzzin and Dreamin was no match for Wise Kid, who kept a perfectly straight course after tracking a slow pace in the slop and drew off to a 4 1/4-length victory, the same number of lengths Old Fashioned had beaten Buzzin’ and Dream in the Southwest.
In his three races, Wise Kid’s Beyer figures have gone from 75 to 76 to 88. He still has a ways to go and may turn out to be more of a Belmont horse, but he’s progressing the right way, Ritchey feels confident in bringing him back in 15 days in the Rebel Stakes (gr. III), and he is bred to run all day, being out of a Seeking the Gold mare. His third dam is Six Crowns (by Triple Crown winner Secretariat out of Triple Crown winner Chris Evert), who is the dam of champion Chief’s Crown. Look for this horse to keep improving.
With most of the
His first start at
In the Sam Davis, Sumo broke from post 10, tracked the pace after going three-wide into the first turn. He was fanned four-wide turning for home, and although he couldn’t catch General Quarters, who had a ground-saving trip throughout, he was striding out beautifully at the end, finishing three lengths ahead of Musket Man, earning a 94 Beyer. He’s now finished first or second at
Following in the footsteps of his conqueror Dunkirk , Santana Six, who finished second to the Todd Pletcher colt in his career debut, came back to break his maiden on the front end for Nick Zito, earning a 95 Beyer (Dunkirk came back with a 98). Although his margin was only 1 1/4 lengths, the runner-up, Polished, finished 11 3/4 lengths ahead of the third horse in a 12-horse field.
Santana Six is by Hold That Tiger, winner of the group I Grand Criterium in
Keep a close eye on Mythical Power, who was relentless breaking his maiden by a neck over front-running stablemate Street Car going a mile on March 6. Trained by Bob Baffert, this son of Congaree is progressing the right way and Baffert has always been high on him. He posted a solid time of 1:37 1/5 and the runner-up finished 8 1/2 lengths ahead of the third horse.
Several others, some new faces and some old forgotten faces, who are worth watching in next weekend’s stakes extravaganza are Flat Out, who could be ready for a big performance in the Rebel Stakes; and Terrain, a top-class 2-year-old, who has been working lights out for his 3-year-old debut at Fair Grounds. Three horses in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) looking to move forward off defeats are Flying Pegasus, Giant Oak , and Free Country. Flying Pegasus, who could be a far superior horse than most people think, and Giant Oak both had been ranked fairly high on our Derby Dozen, and a big performance by either on Saturday would shoot them right back near the top. Even a big rebound race from Poltergeist in the Rebel or Free Country in the Louisiana Derby could spring them back into the mix, as it could an up-and-comer like Captain Cherokee.
Where is Stardom bound?
Judging from their comments, Stardom Bound’s connections do not seem as inclined to try the colts in the Santa Anita Derby (gr.I) as they did before her desperation nose victory in the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I), especially after earning an 87 Beyer figure. Whether or not she’s up to handling the boys, let’s not ignore the fact that she showed true heart and a dogged determination to pull out this win after having to go some nine-wide turning for home.
It certainly was not her best effort in terms of speed and dominance, even though most everyone thought she would improve in leaps and bounds off her debut in the Las Virgenes (gr. I). But horses often will regress second race back off a layoff, and perhaps she ran harder than people thought in the Las Virgenes when only 70% fit. The Oaks did tell us something about her we didn’t know before and that is she certainly has the will to win. The fact is, she’s won five grade I stakes in a row and that is an incredible achievement. There is no doubt Bobby Frankel and IEAH Stables will do what’s best for her.