Hurricane Ike grabbed his first stakes victory in the main track event for 3-year-olds and in doing so dashed the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) hopes of 3-2 favorite Eightyfiveinafifty and Pleasant Prince, who could have earned enough to get into next week’s classic with a win. A son of Graeme Hall, Hurricane Ike is trained by John Sadler for owners Ike and Dawn Thrash.
Hurricane Ike was never far off the pace set by speedy Eightyfiveinafifty, who broke from the outside aboard Ramon Dominguez and rolled through early splits of :22.62 and :45.39. In tight along the rail and steadied at about the three-eighths pole, Hurricane Ike advanced around the late stages of the turn and stuck a head in front of the pacesetter by the time they reached the quarter pole. He opened up a 3 1/2-length advantage at the top of the stretch and was under steady urging by Borel to hold off a strong, late run by Aikenite.
Hurricane Ike hit the wire in front by 2 3/4 lengths on a muddy, sealed track while covering the distance in 1:36.35. Aikenite, with Garrett Gomez in the irons, was 6 3/4 lengths clear of third-place Pleasant Prince. Eightyfiveinafifty was fourth despite drifting out badly in the stretch.
Hurricane Ike was beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Eightyfiveinafifty last out in the seven-furlong Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct. Five of the first six starts of his career came in California, including off-the-board finishes in a pair of graded stakes as a juvenile. The dark bay/brown colt’s lone win prior to the Derby Trial came in his racing debut last summer at Hollywood Park.
"I loved him the first time I rode him," said Borel, referring to the Bay Shore. "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.
"I've had a super day. I'll come back tomorrow and try to do it again."
The winner improved to 2-2-1 from eight starts and increased his earnings to $249,732. Bred in Florida by Stanley Boileau, he is out of the Future Storm mare Parental Uproar. Hurricane Ike was a $115,000 purchase during the select session of the 2008 OBS August yearling sale. The colt was consigned by Southern Breeze Ranch as agent.
Sent off as the fourth choice in a field of eight, Hurricane Ike paid $13.80, $5.60, and $3. The exacta (5-9) returned $75.40 and the trifecta (5-9-4) was $258.
“We were hoping he’d like the track," 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 (Borel), 'you know more about this place than I do.' I figured I was in good hands.
"The Preakness is an option or we might take him to the Dwyer in a couple of weeks. We’ll probably look at something back (East) in the short term."
Though his runner-up effort gave Aikenite enough earnings to qualfy for the Derby, trainer Todd Pletcher said the colt is not being considered for next week's race.