03/31/2009 11:00PM

Derby fever leaves Lanzman giddy


When Squirtle Squirt won the 2001 Breeders' Cup Sprint, owner David Lanzman said he couldn't imagine accomplishing anything more significant in racing. When people in the industry kept telling him that it was nothing like participating in the Kentucky Derby, Lanzman would get offended.

This year, as the owner of the top 3-year-old prospect I Want Revenge, Lanzman is finding out that he was indeed wrong.

"This is almost overwhelming - in a good way,'' Lanzman said by phone this week from Southern California. "Obviously, I love the position I'm in. With computers these days I get nine or 10 calls a day, and eight or nine or 10 faxes from my friends wanting to show me stuff or saying 'Did you see this article or that?' It's nonstop. There are nights I can't sleep and I haven't checked [the computer] since 1 and it's now 3 and there's probably something new that's been written.''

Not all the phone calls are from friends, though.

"Everybody's got something to sell me,'' Lanzman said. "I need this or that, hats, shirts, insurance. It's crazy.''

The craziness may have only just begun. I Want Revenge became a prominent Kentucky Derby contender with his 8 1/2-length blowout victory in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 7, one day after Lanzman marked his 52nd birthday. I Want Revenge can make his bid for being a top three betting choice for the Derby if he's able to duplicate that victory in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial, also at Aqueduct.

I Want Revenge has already changed Lanzman's life. Earlier this week, Lanzman sold a 50-percent interest in the Stephen Got Even colt to the International Equine Acquisitions Holdings Stable in what he called "a life-changing score.'' Lanzman, who would not reveal the sell price, retains 50-percent ownership in I Want Revenge, though the horse will run in the red, white, and blue silks of the IEAH Stable.

"With the exception of Secretariat and Cigar I can't remember what anybody's silks look like,'' said Lanzman, who said he sold half the horse for the financial security it brings to his wife, Desirae, and their son, Blair.

Lanzman, who runs Nationwide Mortgage Consultants, a real-estate mortgage company based in Southern California, became a fan of racing as a teenager when he used to sneak into Hollywood Park after scalping tickets at the Forum, across the street.

Lanzman first got into the game as an owner in 1998, buying a couple of horses at the Barretts sale. Squirtle Squirt, a horse he bought for $25,000 at the 2000 Barretts sale, won 8 of 16 starts and earned $1.1 million.

Lanzman, who bred I Want Revenge, has never before been this close to the Kentucky Derby. During a two-week span in December 2005, Lanzman had a pair of 2-year-olds win maiden races impressively and register impressive speed figures. But neither Plagiarist nor Totally Gone went on to do much.

Though it took I Want Revenge four tries to win a maiden race, both Lanzman and trainer Jeff Mullins felt the horse would truly excel when he got around two turns. That happened in the colt's fourth race at Hollywood Park, which he won by 1o1/2 lengths in front-running fashion. In his next two starts, I Want Revenge was beaten a nose by Pioneerof the Nile in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity and finished third to that same rival in the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita.

After the Lewis, Joe Talamo, the 19-year-old rider of I Want Revenge, said he thought at the quarter pole it wasn't a matter of whether the horse would win the race, but by how much. But in the stretch, I Want Revenge floundered, leading Lanzman and Mullins to seek a dirt surface for the colt's next race.

They chose the Gotham. After surprisingly dueling with Mr. Fantasy for the first six furlongs, I Want Revenge took control leaving the three-sixteenths pole. Lanzman said knew well before that point his horse would win.

"If I didn't have witnesses I couldn't say it, but at the quarter pole right before they turn for home, I turned and around and hugged Jeff," Lanzman said. "We had maybe a head in front, but [Alan] Garcia's already throwing crosses and Joe hadn't moved yet. I hugged my wife and then I turned around and we're still head and head but you just knew.''

Though Lanzman knows there are other legitimate 3-year-olds out there such as Pioneerof the Nile, Friesan Fire, and Quality Road, he likes the spot he's in.

"I wouldn't trade places with anybody,'' he said.