When I Want Revenge came into the Aqueduct barn of Rick Dutrow Jr., in April, the trainer was hopeful but not overly optimistic the colt would be anything like he was before the injury that cost him about a year of training and nearly ended his career.
Scratched as the morning-line favorite only hours before the 2009 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) because of a filling in his front ankle, the injury was eventually determined to be much more serious in nature. Ultrasounds and MRIs showed that the son of Stephen Got Even had significant ligament damage. Nobody was sure if he would ever race again.
But after initially being treated at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital and recuperating for nearly 10 months with Adele Lowell at LaCroix Farm in La Grange, Ky., then finishing his rebab at Emerald Farm in Lexington—4-year-old I Want Revenge has made a remarkable recovery, one that has astounded Dutrow, who took over training duties from Jeff Mullins.
“He’s ahead of schedule. I just don’t get it; it’s amazing. Since he’s come to me, he’s asking for more every day,” said Dutrow. “Every step of the way, he’s ahead of schedule. He’s waiting on us.
“You just don’t normally see horses return like he has off injuries like that. You hope for the best, but you’re really not supposed to make it back from the ‘XYZ’ type injuries. I haven’t had too many that have. We were kind of just going through the motions with him at first, but he kept showing us more every day. Dr. Bramlage (at Rood & Riddle) and the farm did an excellent job getting him ready.”
I Want Revenge has recorded seven works for Dutrow, but June 17 he will have his most important one yet. Regular rider Joe Talamo, who guided the dark bay/brown colt to victories in the Gotham (gr. III) and Wood Memorial (gr. I), is flying in from California for the breeze.
“We’re going to breeze him from the gate, seven-eighths,” Dutrow said. “It’s going to be a very good test. Joe had an off-day so I suggested he fly in for it and they loved the idea.”
If all goes well, Dutrow plans on entering I Want Revenge in the $300,000 Suburban Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont July 3. On the surface, the nine-furlong race may seem like an ambitious return, but not to Dutrow.
“I could tell two or three weeks ago he was ready,” said Dutrow. “I don’t see what the problem is (with the Suburban). It’s an easy one-turn race where he can break right from the gate and I’d much rather do that with him. It’s so natural. If he makes it there, I expect him to run huge. I just don’t see the point of an allowance race. How many more races does he have in him? You never know. He’s a really good horse and he’s ready, so let’s go for it.”
I Want Revenge, who was based in California when trained by Mullins, broke his maiden at fourth asking as a juvenile and was runner-up by a nose in the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) and third in the Robert B. Lewis (gr. II) before winning both of his Kentucky Derby preps on dirt in New York. He has earned $816,000 from eight starts.
A half-interest in the horse was sold by his owner/breeder, David Lanzman, just weeks before the Derby to a partnership led by IEAH Stables. After the untimely injury led to several lawsuits between the two parties, all complaints were finally dropped. The IEAH group eventually bought out Lanzman's share of I Want Revenge.