Derby Trial winner Hurricane Ike is favored in the Super Derby.

Derby Trial winner Hurricane Ike is favored in the Super Derby.

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography

Hurricane Ike Blows in as Super Derby Choice

Southern California invader tops six-horse lineup for owners Ike and Dawn Thrash.

Hurricane Ike blows into Bossier City, La., as the morning line favorite for the $500,000 Super Derby (gr. II) at Louisiana Downs Sept. 25.

One of two Southern California invaders in the field of six 3-year-olds in the 1 1/8-mile Super Derby, Hurricane Ike is 9-5 on the morning line. The race is the 11th on a big stakes program at Louisiana Downs with a probable post of 5:23 p.m. CDT.

Trained by John Sadler for owners Ike and Dawn Thrash of Hattiesburg, Miss., Hurricane Ike won the one-mile Derby Trial (gr. III) over a muddy Churchill Downs track April 24. Off for four months after that, the son of Graeme Hall returned to action Aug. 28 with a fourth-place effort in the King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I) over seven furlongs at Saratoga.

Joel Rosario also flies in from Southern California to take the mount on Hurricane Ike, who will be asked to run the nine-furlong distance for the first time. They will break from post 4. Hurricane Ike owns a 2-2-1 record in nine start with earnings of $262,232.

“He should be up close to the lead,” Sadler told Daily Racing Form after the colt arrived from Hollywood Park Sept. 22. “Hopefully, he’ll be in front.”

The main challenges for Hurricane Ike in the short field should come from undefeated Golden Moka, the Neil Drysdale-trained Distorted Economy, and local hope Apart, who comes off a Louisiana Downs stakes victory for conditioner Al Stall Jr.

Golden Moka, trained by Brian Lynch, puts his 4-for-4 record on the line exactly two months after winning the Prince of Wales Stakes—the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown—off a seven-month layoff. The Ontario-bred son of Golden Missile began his career with three consecutive wins in Panama before shipping to Fort Erie for the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales.

“He’s a very talented horse. That’s what gave me the confidence to stretch him out that far,” said Lynch. “I’m usually not that ambitious. I don’t like to run a horse like that off a long layoff. As we got into our final tune-up works, I worked him with some allowance caliber horses, and he handled them with ease.”

Golden Moka is owned by a group brought together by former jockey Rene Douglas, who suffered career-ending paralysis in a spill at Arlington Park in May 2009. NHL Hall of Famer Denis Savard is one of several who own a piece of the Canadian-bred colt. The owners call their partnership the “Good Friends Stable.”

“To have Rene involved more than anything is great for me,” said Lynch. “He’s such a great rider and a great friend. It’s really exciting for me to be involved with a horse that has brought him so much joy.”

Golden Moka was purchased at Keeneland as a yearling in September 2008 for $8,000 before starting his career in Panama. Bought privately by Good Friends Stable, he was turned over to Lynch, a Canadian-based trainer who Douglas befriended during their time in California in the 1990s. Golden Moka has earned $301,695.

“I think we’ve given him the right time between races so that he doesn’t bounce,” said Lynch. “He’s trained super up to this race. His work the other day (1:12 3/5 for six furlongs at Woodbine Sept. 18) was very nice. He’s sitting on a big race.”

Drysdale is represented by Distorted Economy, who was a closing third in the El Cajon Stakes at Del Mar Sept. 3, losing by a half-length. The son of Distorted Humor  is a late-bloomer who took seven starts to break his maiden. His first five races were on turf before finishing third or better in his four most recent starts on synthetic surfaces. The Super Derby will be his first try on dirt. Patrick Valenzuela returns to Louisiana to ride the bay colt for the first time.

Super Derby Prelude winner Apart tops the local entrants. Owned and trained by the same connections as grade I winner Blame , who was second last year in the Super Derby, Apart won the Prelude by 1 1/2 lengths while racing wide on both turns. After making his debut at Arlington last year, Adele B. Dilschneider's son of Flatter  has improved with each race and gives trainer Stall his third straight starter in the Super Derby. Stall won the race in 2008 with My Pal Charlie.

Ricky Tick, a one-run closer, was hampered by the moderate pace in the Super Derby Prelude, finishing last of eight at odds of 26-1 for trainer Richard Jackson. Arctic Comet, who was cross-entered in the $50,000 Unbridled Stakes, rounds out the field for leading Louisiana Downs trainer Tony Richey.

The Super Derby Day program, a 13-race card, features stakes and races totaling more than $1 million in purses.

$500,000 Super Derby (gr. II, Race 11, 5:23 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Ricky Tick (FL), M St. Julien, R D Jackson, 15/1
2. Arctic Comet (LA), J Jacinto, T J Richey, 20/1
3. Apart (KY), J M Campbell, A M Stall Jr., 3/1
4. Hurricane Ike (FL), J Rosario, J W Sadler, 9/5
5. Golden Moka (ON), A Stephen, B A Lynch, 3/1
6. Distorted Economy (KY), P A Valenzuela, N D Drysdale, 5/2
All carry 124 pounds.