Coming off a year where it seemed as if a new Kentucky Derby contender emerged every week, the 2009 group was quite a bit more consistent with the creme rising to the top as the calendar moved towards April. One serious player that emerged in early March was I Want Revenge, a son of Stephen Got Even who absolutely walloped the field in the Gotham, his conventional dirt debut. The Wood Memorial was to be his final prep for a Kentucky Derby engagement and he had become one of the favorites based on his Gotham win.
I Want Revenge was a heavy favorite to earn his 2nd consecutive win on dirt as his 113 Beyer Speed Figure earned a month earlier in the Gotham far exceeded anything his rivals had ever put forth. He had shown potential as a two year-old with a narrow miss in the CashCall Futurity but a somewhat mediocre effort in the Bob Lewis, where he had no discernable excuse, prompted trainer Jeff Mullins to send him east. Mullins was certainly adept at preparing horses to run on synthetics but his feeling that this colt may be better on dirt turned out to be absolutely right.
Imperial Council had everything you’d want in a 2 turning 3 year-old as 2009 began. His pedigree was regal as his sire, Empire Maker, won the Belmont after finishing 2nd as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby. His dam, Jaramar Rain, was a five-time winner who placed in multiple graded stakes and his trainer, Shug McGaughey, had been down this road a time or two before in years gone by. He made his stakes debut in the Gotham after beating a N1X allowance field at Gulfstream in February. He lingered well behind the lead and made a decent late move to finish a well-beaten third. That was his first try around two turns and many saw him as an improving type who should love the 9 furlong distance of the Wood.
The entry of Atomic Rain and West Side Bernie seemed reasonable for the minor placings in that the former was coming off an improved effort against N1X company at Gulfstream. The latter was a graded stakes winner at 2 having taken the Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park. He was looking to improve off of a poor run in the Lane’s End also at Turfway but seemed set fo ran improved outing in his 3rd start as a 3YO.
The Wood Memorial began with a surprise as I Want Revenge reared at the start and spotted the field some ground.
IMAGE #1 – I Want Revenge left behind as the field leaves the starting gate.
IMAGE #2 – Jockey Joe Talamo didn’t panic from the poor break whatsoever.
IMAGE #3 – As if the trouble at the start wasn’t enough, I Want Revenge is mired in traffic with just over a quarter-mile to go.
IMAGE #4 – The opposition was no match once a seam opened up in mid-stretch.
A frame-by-frame look at the trip I Want Revenge endured in the Wood Memorial showed that his effort to win was very impressive. After all, he did do what a 1-2 shot was supposed to do but there was no horse in the race capable of coming close to him. His margin of victory was only a length and a half and with the extenuating circumstances, that’s solid.
The DRF Chart for the Wood Memorial.
I Want Revenge came out of his Wood Memorial victory in fine fettle and was later installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite for the Kentucky Derby. An ankle problem was detected by Mullins on the morning of the Derby and he was scratched. He has only recently returned to the track and is slated to start again sometime in the spring/summer of next year. If his past performances give any indication, we’ll probably see him on the dirt:
Imperial Council’s disappointing Wood Memorial was followed up with a runner-up finish in the Peter Pan. He was never really a candidate for the Belmont Stakes and wound up facing elders in the Met Mile. He was a non-threatening eighth that day and hasn’t run since, forever being remembered as one of the bigger disappointments of the 2009 Triple Crown season.
The runner-up from the Wood, West Side Bernie, would go on to an off the board finish and was subsequently purchased by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Stable. He has been freshened since and is likely to return to the races during next year’s Dubai International Racing Carnival.
Enjoy the Wood Memorial:
Join us tomorrow as we’ll recap the best NY race of 2009!
All Charts and Past Performance information provided by Daily Racing Form (drf.com). Photos courtesy of Youtube (youtube.com)