04/01/2009 12:00AM

Seven challenge I Want Revenge in Wood


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - While the 8 1/2-length romp by I Want Revenge in last month's Grade 3 Gotham Stakes was a bit of a surprise to his connections, a similar result in Saturday's $750,000 Wood Memorial won't be.

"It's almost scary for us; we think he's better now than he was going into the Gotham," co-owner David Lanzman said during a national conference call this week.

Lanzman became co-owner of I Want Revenge on Monday when he sold 50 percent interest in the colt to the International Equine Acquisitions Holdings Stable. Lanzman, who bred I Want Revenge, called it a "life-changing" transaction, and one in which he stipulated that Jeff Mullins remain as the colt's trainer. Also, as part of the deal, Lanzman became part-owner of the top filly Stardom Bound, who is running in Saturday's Ashland at Keeneland.

Lanzman, of course, will be at Aqueduct, where he will watch I Want Revenge break from the rail under Joe Talamo against seven rivals. I Want Revenge was installed as the 4-5 favorite by Aqueduct linemaker Eric Donovan.

A victory will send I Want Revenge to Louisville as one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby on May 2. Meanwhile, the majority of the others in the field would need a one-two finish to even qualify for the Derby.

Imperial Council, the 2-1 second choice, will break from post 6 under Edgar Prado and needs a top-two finish to get into the Derby field. His trainer, Shug McGaughey, expects Imperial Council to be closer to the pace in the Wood than he was in the Gotham, when he rallied from eighth to be second.

Lord Justice was cross-entered in Saturday's Illinois Derby but his trainer, Todd Pletcher, said he will run in the Wood. Pletcher said his plan is to instruct jockey C.C. Lopez to put his horse on the lead.

"Just looking at the pace scenario we felt he could be the controlling speed,'' Pletcher said. ``

West Side Bernie has enough graded stakes earnings to get into the Kentucky Derby, but his connections did not want to go into the race off his sixth-place performance in the Lane's End Stakes. West Side Bernie will be coupled in the wagering with Atomic Rain, who finished second in the Remsen over this track last year. Both horses are trained by Kelly Breen for owners George and Lori Hall.

"I don't know why he ran such a poor race in Kentucky,'' Breen said of West Side Bernie. "Maybe we'll use that as a lackadaisical workout.''

Just a Coincidence makes his stakes debut for Nick Zito, the trainer of three Wood winners. Lime Rickey makes his dirt debut. Cellar Dweller will scratch out of a Friday allowance race to run in the Wood.