OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Jeff Mullins is trying to stay calm, but his horse, I Want Revenge, is making it hard on him.
I Want Revenge continued preparations for his start as the favorite in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 4 with a sharp five-furlong drill in 58.20 seconds Sunday morning over Hollywood Park's Cushion Track. It was the second-fastest of 29 moves at the distance. Joe Talamo was aboard I Want Revenge for the work, which was done in company with an unraced 3-year-old named I Want My Money.
"Everything went well, he came out of it good so far, couldn't be any better at this point," Mullins said by phone Monday from Southern California. "We put a horse four lengths in front of him, just making sure he got something out of the work."
Mullins said everything has gone well with I Want Revenge since he returned to California after his eye-catching 8 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes here March 7. But as a horse trainer, Mullins knows that in racing, things can change in an instant.
"I hope the horse just keeps making little steps forward and we can keep him healthy," Mullins said. "It's nice to know you got a good horse leading into a race like this. I'm trying to keep myself grounded. They are living, breathing creatures; anything can happen. We just pray that every day he's healthy and we can get through the Wood."
Though a deal is seemingly in the works to sell a half-interest in I Want Revenge to the IEAH Stables led by Michael Iavarone, Mullins is expected to remain the colt's trainer.
"I think all that's in the contract," Mullins said. "Basically that's what's getting sorted out right now. As of [Sunday] night, there wasn't anything final."
Mullins said I Want Revenge will work again Sunday at Hollywood Park and is scheduled to ship to New York on April 1.
The Wood field is expected to include Gotham second- and third-place finishers Imperial Council and Mr. Fantasy as well as Al Khali, Atomic Rain, and West Side Bernie. Danger to Society and Hello Broadway are possible.
Musket Man, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby, is headed to the Illinois Derby on April 4, trainer Derek Ryan said Monday. Ryan said Eibar Coa will ride, in part because Coa has ridden several horses in the past for Eric Fein, part-owner of Musket Man. Coa replaces Daniel Centeno, who rode Musket Man in the Tampa Derby.