I Want Revenge became the first morning-line favorite to be scratched from the Kentucky Derby on the day of the race when trainer Jeff Mullins found a hot-spot on the three-year old colt’s ankle this morning.
An x-ray and ultrasound test did not reveal any damage, but the ankle was tender when flexed. With a wet track expected, owner David Lanzman, as well as Mullins, didn’t want to risk sending the Colt out to compete in dangerous conditions.
"When the word came out that running could hurt the horse, I looked at both doctors and said, 'Then this is no debate. What are we talking about? We'll fight another day,'" Lanzman said.
With last year’s tragic fiasco involving Eight Belles, the first horse to be euthanized at the track in the 134 runnings of the Derby, Lanzman did right by his horse in taking the cautionary route; the death of Eight Belles sparked other changes in horse racing which included the banning of whips, padding of start gates and close examination of track conditions.
I Want Revenge was to start out of the No.13 post, and was to be jockeyed by 19-year old Joe Talamo. Despite the disappointment of not getting to race, Talamo mirrored the sentiments of the Colt’s trainer and owner.
"I'm just glad the horse is OK," Talamo said. "It could have been a lot worse. Something could have happened on the track. I'm just glad it happened in the stall."
Considering the short race-life of horses, the window for competition is small. It is a tough decision to pull a horse out of such a prestigious race, but in the end, the health of the horse is what matters most.
While the Eight Belles tragedy was a dark day for horse racing, it was a very educational experience in that it taught owners how serious a small injury could be.
"I've been in this business kind of all my life," Mullins said. "Most of the things I've learned in this business I've learned by hard knocks in more ways than one. Your biggest dream is to get here, but the biggest nightmare is to get to race day and have to scratch. Right now I don't think it's really sunk in that much, but pretty disappointing."
I Want Revenge was still in the barn early Saturday morning. There was no immediate plans to move him, and further examination may be on the way.
"If you walk by his stall, you're not going to know anything is wrong with him," said veterinarian Foster Northrop, who treated the horse. "He's bucking and kicking. He doesn't even know he's hurt."
Since the morning line was put in the racing program in 1949, no other favorite had scratched on race day. The last major contenders to scratch were A.P. Indy in 1992 and Buddha in 2002.
Friesan Fire, who was the betting favorite on Friday, now takes over as the morning-line favorite with I Want Revenge being scratched.
1. West Side Bernie, 48-1
2. Musket Man, 26-1
3. Mr. Hot Stuff, 33-1
4. Advice, 50-1
5. Hold Me Back, 11-1
6. Friesan Fire, 9-2
7. Papa Clem, 13-1
8. Mine That Bird, 48-1
9. Join in the Dance, 57-1
10. Regal Ransom, 34-1
11. Chocolate Candy, 9-1
12. General Quarters, 5-1
13. I Want Revenge (scratched)
14. Atomic Rain, 68-1
15. Dunkirk, 8-1
16. Pioneerof the Nile, 10-1
17. Summer Bird, 35-1
18. Nowhere to Hide, 52-1
19. Desert Party, 24-1
20. Flying Private, 37-1