August 20, 2010

Revenge: I Want it, You Want it, but Will We Get it?

Sixteen months ago, I Want Revenge was the now horse. In the Gotham he rolled through the Kentucky Derby prep like the rest of the field was running in peanut butter. In the Wood Memorial, he was left far behind at the break, and then blocked making his initial move, before relenting for an improbable and impressive win. From those powerful wins at Aqueduct, the I Want Revenge train was headed full steam ahead for Louisville, Kentucky and The Run for the Roses. It was not to be. The morning line favorite, he was injured shortly before the race, and the big horse was derailed for more than a year.

He returned for new trainer Rick Dutrow on July 4th weekend, to run an unspectacular 3rd in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap. While not winning, I Want Revenge showed enough in the effort to still leave plenty of hope for his many fans. Improvement of that effort, which came 15 months after his previous race, could return him to his place among the nation’s elite. Phase 2 of the I Want Revenge Tour will commence in Monmouth Park’s Iselin Stakes tomorrow. He will have his work cut out for him in the $300,000 1 1/8 mile test. The Iselin has drawn a small but solid field of older males trying to prove they have what it takes to advance on to Churchill Downs and the Breeders’ Cup in early November.

Breaking from the rail will be Sir Whimsey, an experienced son of Jump Start who has shown flashes of this kind of ability in the past. Back with trainer Steve Asmussen, Sir Whimsey is in fine fettle and is coming off to sharp efforts at Monmouth and Delaware. Next is the speed of the race, Our Edge, running for the slumping Nick Zito. He won a grade 3 last Summer by seven lengths, but has not showed that kind of ability since. Our Edge will be out there winging and does like the track. In the 3 hole will be Duke of Mischief. A bit of an inconsistent sort, Duke of Mischief is a threat on his best, as evidenced by easy wins in the Iowa Derby and the Oaklawn Handicap.

Next in line is the horse I consider the one to beat in the Iselin, Redding Colliery. The four-year-old son of Mineshaft has been on the improve since coming from Dubai last Summer. Yet to run under the bright lights of grade 1 racing, Redding Colliery seems to be getting better with every start. He has won 3 of 4 starts this year for conditioner, Kiaran McLaughlin, and his performance in his last race was startling. He turned a solid field of the Lone Star Handicap, into a one horse show under rider Anna Napravnik. Freshened since that win, a repeat of that effort will send hurtling his way to the bigtime.

Finally, breaking outside of I Want Revenge, is my top selection for the race, Gone Astray. At the end of last Summer, I felt that Gone Astray had become one of the better sophomores in the nation. After a solid 2nd to Blame at Saratoga, the Claude McGaughey trained runner dismantled his competition in the Pennsylvania and Ohio Derbies. I was quickly proven wrong as Gone Astray proceeded to go on a four-race losing streak, without sniffing the winner’s circle. That all changed in last month’s Salvator Mile, as the powerful son of Dixie Union was suddenly back on his game. Romping home by five lengths, I knew this was the same horse I admired last Summer, and I am expecting more of the same tomorrow.

So my top picks in the Iselin are Gone Astray and Redding Colliery, but I must admit, I am hoping that I am wrong … Wouldn’t it be nice to see the same I Want Revenge that we all enjoyed last Spring?


D.P. said...

I think Dirty Dutrow will have I Want Revenge ready to roll by whatever means necessary. Looking for him to run big.

Brian Zipse said...

I hope you're right Babe! At least on the running big part.

LDP said...

I'm hoping I Want Revenge can come back too, though I do agree with your top picks. Gone Astray beat the Duke when he was on his game that day and did it so powerfully. RC's race was easy as pie. As I said, I do hope IWR does run back to last years form.