The Brock Talk

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I Like I Want

One of the great things about horse racing is that you can see who everybody else likes in the race. And, you can see how much they like him or her. The horse with the most money bet, has the lowest odds and is hence, the favorite.

As of today there are three horses that are vying for favoritism when the horses go to the gate in the Kentucky Derby - Wood Memorial Winner I Want Revenge, Florida Derby winner Quality Road and Louisiana Derby Freisan Fire. Santa Anita Derby winner Pioneerof the Nile will also be popular. (More on that later.)

Of those top three, I like I Want Revenge, but there isn't much to seperate them and I reserve the right to change that opinion.

Quality Road looks very impressive, but I am worried about his quarter crack injury suffered in the Florida Derby on March 28. (A quarter crack is not serious but is akin to a human running with a split nail on his big toe.) Trainer Jimmy Jerkins has said that the foot has healed and all systems are go. The son of Elusive Quality worked at Belmont Park in New York yesterday morning going 6 furlongs (3/4 of a mile) in 1:12.03. The work was tabbed as a "bullet" work by the Daily Racing Form, meaning it was the fastest time at that distance that morning at Belmont.

“He went good, a little faster than I intended,” Jerkens said. “His foot looked like it’s all right, too. Usually when you get this far, it’s OK.”

With I Want Revenge we have a horse who has been very impressive in his last two races leading up to the Derby and more importantly, no quarter crack. After leaving his home in Southern California, I Want Revenge won the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes in New York by eight lengths on Mar. 7 then came back to take the Grade 1 Wood Memorial two weeks later. It was only by a length and-a-half, but he did it very easily.

In his first serious work at Churchill Downs on Tuesday, jockey Joe Talamo flew in from California to take him 5/8ths of a mile in :50. It wasn't the fastest of works (18th of 25 at Churchill that morning), but it was what the trainer said he wanted from the horse. "That's all we wanted to do today," Mullins said. "He just needed to do enough to keep himself safe. He's been tearing the barn down and we had to do something with him. If they get to feeling too good, they might get themselves hurt. We had to let him do a little something today."

This will be the first Kentucky Derby for Talamo, but there is little question this young rider is ready for the Derby after having much success in his young career - first in his native Louisiana and recently in the very tough circuit in Southern California.

I Want Revenge will also be a case study of the impact of artificial racing surfaces that are somewhat new to horse racing. After leaving his home in California where races are run on synthetic tracks, he showed considerable improvement racing on natural dirt in New York. Churchill Downs is also on natural dirt so we'll watch his next work closely.

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