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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Perfect Prep

My concern about I Want Revenge on Saturday, in terms of his validating his Gotham romp, getting a useful prep, and proving himself to be a true top three contender for the Kentucky Derby, was that there simply wasn't enough competition in the race (skeptical of Imperial Council as I was). But the horse created his own adversity with his lethargic start by which he spotted the field several lengths. And, in overcoming that handicap to win the Wood, his connections lucked into an absolutely perfect prep. Not only did the son of Stephen Got Even affirm his tactical adaptability, he took some (real) dirt in the face, encountered the kind of traffic blockage he's likely to find in a 20 horse field, and demonstrated a fierce will to win in accelerating through a narrow opening and bursting through to victory.

And, on top of all that, he left a lot in the tank; at least according to his jockey and trainer.

“He actually had a great trip,” said Talamo... “He was on the rail the whole way and got to save ground."
“I thought today was a fairly easy race for him,” [Jeff Mullins] said. “To be honest, he only ran the last eighth of a mile, so I don’t think it took too much out of him." [NY Times, as Joe Drape takes a break from this to actually write about a horse race]
After lagging behind the field, running his first quarter in 25.71, I Want Revenge ran subsequent splits of 23.72 and 23.58, slowed to 24.53 as he waited for room, and then re-broke to a final eighth of 11.96. Standing in the winner's circle after the race, amidst a large group of undoubtedly new owners after his half-sale to IEAH, the horse looked more like he'd just arisen from a nap rather than run a mile and an eighth. This could certainly be your post-time favorite at Churchill.

After the scratch of The Pamplemousse (lower body injury; the owners would not specify which leg so that his rival horses would not be tempted to kick him in it next time), and the subsequent scratch of potential rabbit Z Day, Pioneerof the Nile also faced the scenario of his final prep not being as useful as he might need. In this case, not only did the colt break well, but he again proved to be tough for Garrett Gomez to handle, tugging him up to the lead as the pace dawdled down the backstretch. In the stretch, he seemed all out to hold Chocolate Candy safe in a hard driving final quarter of 12.50 (final 3/8ths in 36.77).

Unlike Jeff Mullins and Joe Talamo, this colt's connections expressed disappointment with the way the race went. Bob Baffert said: "We wanted an honest pace....This horse has been taken out of his game the last two races." And Garrett Gomez explained:
“I feel it was a carbon copy of his last race, and we weren't trying to accomplish that...

“I was just a little disappointed I wasn't able to get it done the way we wanted to....You're always happy to win the Santa Anita Derby, but just knowing the next step for him, I was trying to get a little more preparation for the next step....I wasn't able to accomplish that.” []
There's enough uncertainly surrounding this son of Empire Maker to start with given the fact he's never run on the real stuff. Given what I thought was an uncertain final prep, I'm thinking that I'd want odds in the region of 8-1 come Derby day, and don't think I'm going to get it.

And a highly disappointing third place finish for Stardom Bound in the Ashland, and I guess I'll have to eat a serving of humble pie on this one, defending her desperate win in the SA Oaks and ridiculing the decision to take her off the Derby Trail as I did. No excuses here, and now she doesn't even sound certain for the Kentucky Oaks. With the benefit of hindsight, the 24-1 odds on winning Hooh Why, compared to the 7-10 on a filly who beat her by two noses last time out, has to be the overlay of the year. Hooh Why is by Cloud Hopping, a Mr. Prospector mare who is apparently either dead or residing in some foreign land, as he's not listed in the Stallion Register.


Anonymous said...

No respect. Yesterday anon belittles Coa(overated) and Derek Ryan(rookie) and today you don't even give Musket Man(15k purchase) the time of day. I'm impressed with what I've seen with Derek Ryan the last couple of years. I hope the little guy wins it all.
Musket Man, like Rap Tale has the blood of Ksar in his veins.


Valerie Grash said...

Cloud Hopping bounced around Florida for awhile (Wycombe House Stud in 2002, DunHill Stud in 2003, and then Lambholm South in 2004). He shuttled to Haras El Ranchero, Uruguay, for 2007 season there, and I think that’s where he still is.

Brett said...

Just watched the Wood Memorial again and it's more impressive. He really has no room down the stretch and actually gets bumped pretty hard. And Talamo I don't think ever goes to the whip. Just scintillating.

Anonymous said...

I Want Revenge's Wood scintillating. My opinion would be, hardly. First, who exactly did he beat? nobody. This Grade 1 race was run pretty much a souped up allowance run, with no real contenders. Second, there was only one other similiar race at the distance run. That other race the older horses in the stakes race, ran a 50+ seconds, half mile. The half for the Wood was 48 and change. What better pace for a slow starting horse and jockey to close into, than a relatively fast pace run by, and chased by a bunch of non-descripts, that have accomplished very little. Those other horses were spent after a mile. Before you annoit, you better re-think what you may have really seen. You saw a race before, that NO ONE could close on the 2 leaders after a 50+ half, and in the 48+ half Wood, the horse leaping at the start gets the perfect pace scenario to draft behind, and pickoff a bunch of bums. If you were so impressed by I Want Revenge, by all means, please play him. I believe the best he gets, is 4th in the Derby, finishing off the board.

Anonymous said...

Most of my predictions were correct but I was certainly off base on Coa/Ryan, both of whom could not have done a better job in the ILL.

Guess I am still smarting from the ridiculous ride Coa gave Big Drama last week costing me a big score.

Would not be so quick to say IWR created his own adversity. It appeared that the gate man had his him firmly in his hands when the gate popped opened if you watch the head on. Once again gate crew issues almost ruin a big race in NY. If he failed to hit the board there might have been a refund, but if he ran second all the singles in the multi race exotics would be down the drain.

I certainly would not call his trip perfect either, perhaps from a ground saving perspective until midway on the turn, but he was slammed around pretty darn good and did lose ground when he swung four wide.

No he did not beat much, I never understood the hype on Shug's horse and had him completely off my ticket, but he won for fun in a quick time (he would have won the Excelsior by six lengths!) and ovecame adversity in the process.

He should be favored on Derby Day, and I am locked in at 56-1.

On the subject of bad rides, while I admire Dominquez on a day to day basis, he ride in the Excelsior was a complete debacle. Despite the speed being eliminated at the start and the dawdling fractions, Ramon strangled the big grey near the rear and did not move until it was way too late, costing me and many others a chalky small P6 and P4 in the process.

Glimmerglass said...

I'll repeat a prior comment: Rachel Alexandra would knock the stuffing out of Stardom Bound in the Oaks - if SB actually even goes. Dutrow sounded like he'd recomment IEAH skip the Oaks.

It wasn't just Hooh Why who took the win in an upset but Gozzip Girl also distanced herself comfortably ahead of Stardom Bound.

Great effort by I Want Revenge! He already looked impressive and this just asserts his standing in the current Derby rankings.

I think too many people will overlook Mustket Man at their own risk. The brand new Herald-Leader's "original Top 10" only puts him one notch before Win Willy. Which is the equivalent of a bitch slap frankly as Win Willy won't repeat his effort in the Arkansas Derby and will be an also-ran if he goes to the Kentucky Derby.

Anonymous said...

How is a major race like the Wood Memorial nowhere to be found on TV?

Yesterday was not the first time this happened, but it was perhaps the most frustrating. About 90 minutes before post time for the Wood, HRTV announced that they would not be able to show it live. Well, we didn't panic. We assumed - wrongly - that we would be able to watch it on TVG or NBC. How can it be good for thoroughbred racing or - perhaps more importantly - for NY racing for a key 3 year-old Derby prep to not be on TV? Or to be on some channel that even we couldn't find (with both Dish and DirecTV). Believe it or not, there are New York racing fans who do not live in the NY broadcast area.

onecalicocat said...

A week goes by and everyone forgets Quality Road.
You can't fault the winners his sire has produced.

Anonymous said...

Anon 302, I suppose IWR's prior very good finishes vs the best the west has to offer do not count?

He beat no one, I agree, but who really has beaten anyone at this point on the trail, other than Pioneer of the Nile of course?

Who is your pick? IF its not Pioneer you can not use the "who have they beat?" argument since Friesan Fire and Quality Road have beaten no one either. And please dont tell me Dunkirk has done anything to earn anyone's support other than being sold for a ton of money. If he was a 15k yearling with his PP's he would not be in anyone's top ten.

Anonymous said...

Musket Man! Guys, c'mon. No son of Yonaguska is going to win the Kentucky Derby. He's a nice little horse, but please bet him on Derby day. He won't be in the top 8 finishers. As for I Want Revenge, I agree with the guy who says he beat nobody. Still, the final time was quite legit.

Anonymous said...

Its not who you beat but how you do it, and IWR has done it twice now. He remains ofer two vs. Pioneer though.

Plaudit said...

Cloud Hopping is a stallion in Haras "El Ranchero" Uruguay, arrived in 2007 an his first crop in Uruguay born in 2008.