By Ron Mitchell and Dan Liebman
It is the first time in Derby history (that anyone could research) that the morning-line favorite was scratched the day of the race.
As a result of the scratch, all of the horses from the original 14-20 post positions will move in one position. It will not, however, affect the program numbers.
The soft tissue injury to the left front ankle was discovered the morning of the race by trainer Jeff Mullins. Dr. Foster Northrup watched as I Want Revenge jogged on the blacktop, and "he jogged fine," the equine practitioner said at a press conference. But, "the inflammation was there.
"He X-rayed normal and the ultrasound was normal," Dr. Northrup said. "There is no diagnosis at this time. More sophisticated tests will need to be done."
I Want Revenge is still on the grounds at Churchill Downs.
"We detected a little pressure and a touch of heat in the left front ankle," Mullins said. "We jogged him up and down the asphalt to check for soundness and he actually jogged pretty well. We flexed the ankle and he gave to the flexing of the ankle. By that time, Dr. Northrup showed up. He jogged him again and he jogged fairly good. Dr. Northrup flexed the ankle and he gave to the flexion again."
The son of Stephen Got Even had won his last two starts impressively, the Wood Memorial (gr. I) and Gotham Stakes (gr. I). He had a bullet work on April 28 but a physical problem has forced him to be withdrawn from the race.
Bred by David Lanzman, I Want Revenge is owned in partnership by Lanzman, IEAH Stables, Puglisi Racing, Charles Winner, Michael Dubb, and Steven Marshall. I Want Revenge was to be ridden by 19-year-old jockey Joe Talamo.
"They (the veterinarians) gave me their opinion of what was best for the horse. At that point, there was no debate (about scratching)," Lanzman said. "I’m glad the horse is OK."
"Your biggest dream is to get here. Your biggest nightmare is to get here and scratch," Mullins said.
Less than two weeks ago, favoritism in the Derby appeared to be between Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Quality Road and I Want Revenge. Now, neither Quality Road nor I Want Revenge will run, with Quality Road battling quarter-crack problems.