Despite missing the break, then being caught in traffic at the top of the lane, I Want Revenge split horses in mid-stretch and went on to win the $750,000 Wood Memorial (gr. I) (VIDEO) in remarkable fashion April 4 at Aqueduct.
In what can only be described as an amazing performance, I Want Revenge was forced to make up significant ground after breaking in the air as the gates opened. The bad break caused the son of Stephen Got Even to be last in a field of eight 3-year-olds through the backstretch. Jockey Joe Talamo eventually steered I Want Revenge into striking position as the field rounded the far turn and when the colt hit the eighth-pole, he was only a couple lengths back of the leader, Just a Coincidence.
The only problem for I Want Revenge was that he was behind a wall of five horses when swinging five-wide into the stretch. But Talamo managed to guide his mount through traffic and after splitting Just a Coincidence and West Side Bernie in mid-stretch, it was clear sailing to the wire. The final time for 1 1/8 miles on a fast main track was 1:49.49. The margin of victory over runner-up West Side Bernie was 1 1/2 lengths.
“(When he missed the break) I was already heading back to the barn at that point,” said trainer Jeff Mullins. “But Joe was patient and it says a lot for a young rider. He saved his horse and waited for the right time to let him go.
“He get bottled up behind horses – when you have the rail you’re worried about that anyway – but when you miss the break it makes it that much tougher for him to overcome. What he did today is pretty special. He had every trouble you could have in a race and still overcame it. It tells me he’s a pretty nice horse. That’s as good as it gets right there; we’ve got one more show to go to and if he can win that one, he’s a pretty special animal. The plan try is to try and ship to Churchill Downs Monday (April 6).”
With his sensational victory, I Want Revenge will head into the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) as one of the favorites. The dark bay colt is owned by IEAH Stables and David Lanzman, who also bred the Triple Crown nominee in Kentucky.
I Want Revenge, an 8 1/2-length winner of the Gotham (gr. III) in his previous start, is now 3-1-4 from eight lifetime starts and has earned $816,000. He is out of the Roy mare Meguial.
Just a Coincidence finished third in the Wood, 1 1/4 lengths back of West Side Bernie. Atomic Rain, who ran as a coupled entry with West Side Bernie for George and Lori Hall, finished fourth.
Imperial Council, the Gotham runner-up and the second betting choice in the Wood, had a perfect stalking trip in back of pacesetter Lord Justice and took a brief lead in upper stretch before finishing fifth under Edgar Prado.
Lord Justice set a moderate pace, posting fractions of :24.50, :48.13, and 1:12.32 for six furlongs. Imperial Council, Atomic Rain, and Just a Coincidence all stalked the pace and were in contention for the win in the final furlong before I Want Revenge’s heroic finish.
“At the break, he kind of reared up a little bit, but he actually had a great trip,” Talamo said. “He was on the rail the whole way and got to save ground. Right down the stretch, I found an opening and he kicked down like a real nice horse.
“You can’t panic. You just have to go with Plan B. At the half-mile pole, he was moving so good it was just a matter of if he could get out. He was just cruising at the quarter pole and was covered up, then when I found a seam, I asked him and he just kicked it home.
“I thought today was a fairly easy race for him," Talamo continued. "To be honest, he only ran the last eighth of a mile, so I don’t think it took too much out of him. He just keeps getting better and better. That was the first time he got real dirt in his face and he took it like he’s had it before 100 times. He’s such a smart animal, and he’s real mature for his age.”
West Side Bernie, who earned $150,000 for second, will also be pointed to the Kentucky Derby, said trainer Kelly Breen.
Sent off at 1-2, I Want Revenge paid $3, $2.70, and $2.10. The exacta (2-1A) returned $15.20, and the trifecta (2-1-6) was worth $77.50.
Cellar Dweller was sixth, followed by Lord Justice and Lime Rickey.