I Want Revenge not so sweet for Derby

May 2, 2009 7:10 PM
by David Stratton | The Kentucky Derby was turned upside down this morning when it was announced morning line favorite I Want Revenge was withdrawn from the 135th Kentucky Derby.

The announcement came after a filling was discovered in an ankle on the day of the race. It is the first time in Derby history that the morning-line favorite was scratched the day of the race.

The soft tissue injury to the left front ankle was discovered this morning by trainer Jeff Mullins. Dr. Foster Northrup watched as I Want Revenge jogged on the blacktop, and "he jogged fine," the equine practitioner said at a press conference. But, "the inflammation was there.

"He X-rayed normal and the ultrasound was normal," Dr. Northrup said. "There is no diagnosis at this time. More sophisticated tests will need to be done."

I Want Revenge is still on the grounds at Churchill Downs, and it is believed the horse will return to racing.

"We detected a little pressure and a touch of heat in the left front ankle," Mullins said. "We jogged him up and down the asphalt to check for soundness and he actually jogged pretty well. We flexed the ankle and he gave to the flexing of the ankle. By that time, Dr. Northrup showed up. He jogged him again and he jogged fairly good. Dr. Northrup flexed the ankle and he gave to the flexion again."

Off his showing in the Wood Memorial, I Want Revenge was installed as the favorite among 19 other Derby hopefuls.

His defection leaves the Derby without the top 3-year-olds in the nation. Less than two weeks ago, Florida Derby winner Quality Road was also withdrawn because of a minor injury of his own. Both horses are expected to return to races, perhaps for the other Triple Crown races, the Preakness in two weeks and the Belmont Stakes in five weeks.

Without I Want Revenge in the starting gate, much of the early betting action has fallen on Friesan Fire, a speedy horse that’s proven he can handle an off-track. Rain is forecast for today at Churchill Downs.

Also garnering early support are Dunkirk, Hold Me Back, Papa Clem and Pioneerof the Nile.

GamingToday’s pick to win the Derby is Hold Me Back, based on his solid win in the Lane’s End and strong second to General Quarters in the Blue Grass Stakes.

Rounding out the Trifecta should be Dunkirk for second and General Quarters for the show position.