Shipping in from California and making his first start on natural dirt, I Want Revenge put away Mr. Fantasy at the top of the stretch and scored by 8 1/2 convincing lengths in the $250,000 Gotham Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) March 7 at Aqueduct.
Ridden by Joe Talamo, I Want Revenge raced on the heels of pacesetting Mr. Fantasy, who was sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the field of nine 3-year-olds looking to make a splash on the Triple Crown trail. After pressing the pace behind reasonable fractions of :23.76, :48.45, and 1:12.69, I Want Revenge came on to even terms with Mr. Fantasy at the quarter-pole. The son of Stephen Got Even began to inch away approaching the eighth-pole and then drew clear in mid-stretch.
Talamo guided the dark bay to the wire for his first graded stakes victory in a time of 1:42.65 for 1 1/16 miles on the fast inner track. Imperial Council, who was next to last after six furlongs, rallied strongly to edge Mr. Fantasy and Alan Garcia by a neck for runner-up with Rajiv Maragh aboard. Masala was fourth.
“We thought the dirt would move him up; I don’t know if that’s what did it or not,” said winning trainer Jeff Mullins. “We might have just picked the right spot. He’s going to stay here and run in the Wood (Memorial, gr. I, April 4). We’re going to think about this one for a while.”
Mullins, who is based in California, indicated that I Want Revenge will be stabled in New York with trainer Anthony Dutrow.
I Want Revenge, out of the Roy mare Meguial, races for David J. Lanzman, who also bred the colt in Kentucky. His horse entered the Gotham off of two impressive graded stakes efforts in California, beaten narrowly by top West Coast Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) contender Pioneerof the Nile both times.
Most recently, I Want Revenge held a lead in deep stretch of the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 7 at Santa Anita, but finished third by 1 1/2 lengths. He closed out his juvenile campaign with a nose defeat to Pioneerof the Nile in the $754,000 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park (gr. I) Dec. 20.
I Want Revenge now has garnered $324,000 of graded earnings. He is 2-1-4 from seven starts.
“I have to give all the credit to Jeff,” Talamo said. “He’s kept him fresh this whole campaign. I had so much horse the whole way around. Me and Alan (Garcia) were going pretty slow, but at the quarter-pole, my horse just took off. There is no comparison between real dirt and synthetic – he really took to it. When we went past the three-sixteenth pole, I was smiling. We’ll be back in four weeks.”
Sequoia Racing’s Imperial Council, a son of Empire Maker trained by Shug McGaughey, also turned in a good effort in his first graded stakes test and first try around two turns.
“This is a really talented horse that is going to appreciate more distance,” said Maragh, who rode Imperial Council for the first time. "He’s the best 3-year-old I’ve ridden in New York. He galloped out tremendous.”
Mr. Fantasy was also making his first appearance in open company. The New York-bred son of E Dubai had won by big margins in his first two tries – both at Aqueduct. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was pleased with his effort despite being the beaten favorite.
“We were second-best, even though we didn’t get second,” McLaughlin said. “If (I Want Revenge) doesn’t ship east, we win by five.”
Turning in a disappointing performance was Haynesfield, who had romped in three straight stakes races at Aqueduct. The Steve Asmussen trainee finished eighth, beating only 82-1 longshot Giant Ryan.
Sent off as the second choice, I Want Revenge paid $8.30, $4.50 and $3. The exacta (8-7) returned $40.80 and the trifecta (8-7-5) was worth $111.