Dawn and Ike Thrash's HURRICANE IKE (Graeme Hall) tracked the pacesetting Eightyfiveinafifty (Forest Camp) throughout the April 3 Bay Shore S. (G3) at Aqueduct and finished in that same spot under Calvin Borel. On Saturday, Hurricane Ike and Borel reunited for the $200,000 Derby Trial S. (G3) at Churchill Downs and followed the same plan as they pressed the pace set by Eightyfiveinafifty over the muddy, sealed track. There was just one difference: they won.
As Eightyfiveinafifty reeled off splits of :22 3/5 and :45 1/5, Borel kept Hurricane Ike settled on the rail. Rounding the turn, the crafty Cajun unleashed his mount and Hurricane Ike blew through the inside to take command through seven furlongs in 1:23 1/5. The only challenge came from Aikenite (Yes It's True), but he could never reach the powerful duo of Hurricane Ike and Borel, who finished up the one-mile opening day feature in 1:36 1/5 while 2 3/4 lengths clear on the line.
"I was fortunate to have the opportunity to ride him in New York the other day," Borel said. "He ran a little longer today; he went a mile today and that probably helped a lot. And it might have taken a race to get to know him. I loved him the first time I rode him. I begged the next time he ran to let me ride him and give me one more shot. He's a nice little horse. He tries. He's a gutsy little horse. To my knowledge the colt's just coming around -- a late developer."
"We were hoping he'd like the track," trainer John Sadler said. "We don't have that much experience with off tracks in California, especially real sloppy tracks. So we were hoping that he'd like the going and he seemed to be traveling well early. I told the jock, 'you know more about this place than I do.' I figured I was in good hands.
Hurricane Ike rewarded his backers with payouts of $13.80, $5.60 and $3 as the near 6-1 fifth pick while giving Borel his fifth win on the day.
"I've had a super day," Borel said. "I'll come back tomorrow and try to do it again. I've won on the rail, and I won outside. The track's good all over. Of course, I have to give credit to my man (agent Jerry Hissam) for getting all these nice horses for me to ride."
Aikenite was worth $6 and $4.40 as the 6-1 fifth choice and ended the $75.40 exacta. Pleasant Prince (Indy King) was another 6 3/4 lengths back in third to give $3.40 at 9-2 and complete the $258 trifecta. Eightyfiveinafifty followed by another 4 1/4 lengths as the 3-2 favorite and rounded out the 5-9-4-10 superfecta that totaled $708.20. Game on Dude (Awesome Again), Wow Wow Wow (Broken Vow), Miner's Reserve (Mineshaft) and Hear Ye Hear Ye (Hear No Evil) completed the order under the wire after Soaring Empire (Empire Maker) and Privilaged (Southern Image) were both withdrawn.
Even though Aikenite now has enough graded earnings to make the Kentucky Derby (G1) field, trainer Todd Pletcher was skeptical about his participation.
"I don't think so," Pletcher said. "We weren't thinking about it beforehand. We did not enter with the intentions of trying to accumulate earnings for the Derby."
Hurricane Ike earned just the second win of his career in this spot, having broken his maiden at first asking last July at Hollywood Park. Sadler immediately stepped the dark bay colt up to face graded rivals, and Hurricane Ike responded with fourth-, fifth- and 11th-place runs in the Best Pal S. (G2), Del Mar Futurity (G1) and Breeders' Futurity (G1), respectively.
The colt wheeled back from the Breeders' Futurity just 20 days later to miss by only a neck in the Jack Goodman S., and that October 31 race ended up being his juvenile finale. Hurricane Ike returned to competition in a March 11 allowance at Santa Anita, finishing third, then made his dirt debut last out in the Bay Shore, where he was 2 1/2 lengths behind Eightyfiveinafifty on the wire. Easily turning the tables on his rival here, the now three-year-old runner has accumulated $249,732 in lifetime earnings to go along with an 8-2-2-1 career mark.
"He's a little unlucky," Sadler said. "He got beat two or three lengths in the Del Mar Futurity and was eight-wide around there. He's run with good quality horses in California and ran very well in the Bay Shore. When he ran so well in the Bay Shore, we kept him back here, brought him down to Keeneland, then came over here (to Churchill) and had two works over the track. I thought he was pretty well prepared for this race today."
"The (May 17) Preakness ([G1] at Pimlico) is an option or we might take him to the (May 8) Dwyer (G2) in a couple of weeks. We'll probably look at something back here (East) in the short term."
Bred in Florida by Stanley Boileau, Hurricane Ike sold to his current owners for $115,000 as an OBS August yearling. Out of the unraced Parental Uproar (Future Storm), he has a stakes-winning half-brother named Drums of Thunder (Concerto), who was second in the 2007 Holy Bull S. (G3), as well as an unnamed yearling half-brother by Congrats. Parental Uproar is herself a half-sister to Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Lord Juban (Lord Avie).