The injury that kept I Want Revenge out of the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) will keep him from racing for months and threaten his career if he doesn't respond well to therapy, the horse's veterinarian said May 5.
Dr. Foster Northrop said swelling in I Want Revenge's right front ankle, once considered only mild, progressed over the weekend, and an ultrasound and MRI showed additional ligament damage. The morning-line Derby favorite was undergoing a bone scan and other tests at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital near Lexington.
"Part of the prognosis is determined by the horse's response to therapy, but this is a serious injury, and depending on his progress, could be career-threatening," Northrop said.
Northrop commended the horse's owners and trainer for making an agonizing decision on Derby morning, just hours before the race, to pull the 3-year-old colt out of the race. Although he showed no problems while jogging, inflammation was detected in the ankle, making it difficult for him to flex.
It was the first scratch of a Derby favorite the day of the race in the 60 years since Churchill Downs has kept track of the morning line.
Northrop says the decision may have saved the colt's life.
I Want Revenge, by Stephen Got Even, was bred by David Lanzman and races for him in partnership with IEAH Stables, Puglisi Racing, Charles Winner, Michael Dubb, and Steven Marshall. The colt won the Wood Memorial (gr. I) in his last start. He has won three of eight lifetime starts and earned $816,000. He is trained by Jeff Mullins.
"It was a gigantic move," Northrop said. "Derby hysteria really clouds people's judgment, so I was really proud of the trainer and owners."
Northrop said the early prognosis was minor, but the MRI and other tests showed a more serious soft-tissue injury than originally suspected. The ligament in question is critical for racehorses, he said, because it helps support the fetlock joint during high-speed exercise.
"The problem with that ligament is when you ultrasound it, it's not a real accurate ultrasound because of location, shape and the way runs through the ankle," Northrop said. "When you see a partial tear, it can be a major tear you're not seeing totally."