Friday, May 8, 2009

I Want Revenge has career-threatening injury


Adam Coglianese/NYRA photo

by Jeff Lowe

An MRI revealed significant damage to ligaments in the right front leg of Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) winner I Want Revenge.

Foster Northrop, D.V.M., said the injury to the oblique sesamoidean ligaments is career-threatening.

“[With] these kind of injuries, part of the prognosis depends on how they heal in the next two or three months,” Northrop said. “If he heals well, then he’ll go back into training. If he doesn’t, then his career is probably over. It’s a serious injury of a very important structure. It’s not good news.”

Northrop expressed relief that the first signs of the injury were detected on the morning of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1).

I Want Revenge had been installed as the 3-to-1 morning-line favorite for the Derby. He was scratched after Northrop, trainer Jeff Mullins, and equine surgeon Larry Bramlage, D.V.M., found heat and discomfort in the ankle. The Stephen Got Even colt is under Bramlage’s care now at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington.

In the original announcement on Derby day, Mullins and Churchill Downs described the injury as being in the left front ankle, but Northrop and Bramlage said it is actually in the right front.

“At this point, the injury is moderate in severity, and it is too early to predict a long term prognosis or the effect on I Want Revenge's career,” Bramlage said. “The single biggest determining factor on the long term prognosis will be determined by the horse's response to therapy and how he progresses.”

Northrop said the injury could have occurred in I Want Revenge’s four-furlong workout in :47.20 on April 28 at Churchill Downs.

“A lot of soft tissue injuries take two or three days to start manifesting themselves,” he said. “Fortunately for the horse and us and everybody, it manifested itself Derby morning, enough that we could go out there and prevent him from hurting himself worse.”

Northrop and Bramlage commended Mullins and I Want Revenge’s ownership group for pulling I Want Revenge from the Derby and protecting him from a more serious injury.

“I’ve been doing the Derby now for 19 years and I can’t tell you how many times people have been swept up in the hysteria and have lost any kind of common sense and any kind of good judgment,” Northrop said. “These people stepped in right away.”

Northrop said co-owner David Lanzman has urged transparency in the diagnosis and that the results of the MRI and a bone scan would be made public. Northrop said part of the reason he got Bramlage involved was to try to curb speculation that I Want Revenge was scratched for any other reason.

Mullins began a seven-day suspension on Sunday for a security barn violation on April 4 at Aqueduct, the day of I Want Revenge’s Wood Memorial victory.

“Jeff and I had made up our decision, and a light bulb went in my head and I said, ‘Because everybody seems to be out to get you, we better get somebody that people won’t question,’” said Northrop, a member of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. “I totally respect [Bramlage’s] opinion—I bounce things off of Larry all the time—but part of my thinking was to try to ward off some of these rumors.

“My records—I’ll show you the X-rays, I’ll show you the ultrasound, and I’ll show you the bone scan, when I have them in my hand.”