Dawn and Ike Thrash’s Hurricane Ike blew past favored Eightyfiveinafifty leaving the far turn to repulsed a late bid from Aikenite to win the 86th running of the $237,400 The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (GIII) by 2 ¾ lengths on Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs.
In giving jockey Calvin Borel his fifth victory of the afternoon, Hurricane Ike covered the mile on a track labeled as “sloppy” in 1:36.35.
The victory was worth $142,772 and increased Hurricane Ike’s earnings to $248,732 of which $198,883 came in graded stakes. A Florida-bred son of Graeme Hall, Hurricane Ike improved his record to 8-2-2-1.
The victory could start a big week in the Louisville for the Thrashs as well as trainer John Sadler, who recorded his first Churchill Downs stakes victory. The Thrashs own Arkansas Derby (GI) winner Line of David who Sadler will send out next Saturday in the 136th running of the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).
Eightyfiveinafifty led the field of eight through fractions of :22.62 and :45.39 with Hurricane Ike in closest pursuit along the rail. At the middle of the far turn, Borel squeezed Hurricane Ike through a narrow opening after Eightyfiveinafifty and assumed command at the top of the stretch.
Aikenite, ridden by Garrett Gomez rallied in the middle of the track, but was no match for the winner. Aikenite picked up $46,056 for finishing second to boost his career graded stakes bankroll to $267,806.
It was another 6 ¾ lengths back to Pleasant Prince and 4 ¼ lengths more to Eightyfiveinafifty, both of whom had their Kentucky Derby hopes dashed by not earning enough money. Completing the field in order Game On Dude, Wow Wow Wow, Miner’s Reserve and Hear Ye Hear Ye.
Hurricane Ike returned mutuels to his backers in the spring meet opening day crowd of $13.80, $5.60 and $3. Aikenite returned $6 and $4.40 with Pleasant Prince, ridden by Julien Leparoux, paying $3.40 to show.
Borel’s other winners on the card were Dublin Da’Bet ($5.40) in the first, Raposa ($3.20) in the fourth, Forest Warfare ($5) in the sixth and Cassoulet ($10.80) in the eighth.
Racing continues Sunday with a 10-race program that begins at 12:45 p.m. (ET).
THE CLIFF’S EDGE DERBY TRIAL QUOTES
CALVIN BOREL (Jockey, Hurricane Ike, winner): “I was fortunate to have the opportunity to ride him in New York the other day. 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.” “I've had a super day. 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."
JOHN SADLER (Trainer Hurricane Ike, winner): “We were hoping he’d like the track. 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. “This horse ran a good race in New York (second in the Bay Shore on April 3). He’s a very nice horse. He’s a little unlucky. 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 and had two works over the track. I thought he was pretty well prepared for this race today. If the favorite was 6-5, we certainly looked like we would be second or third choice in here.” “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 here (East) in the short term.”
GARRETT GOMEZ (Jockey, Aikenite, second): “I took a hold of him coming away from there and they sort of scooted away from me. I thought maybe I’d taken too much hold. But then he settled in and started picking them up and he really got to running good. He ran a good race. First time on the ‘off’ and he ran good.”
TODD PLETCHER (Trainer, Aikenite, second): Asked whether his owner (Cot Campbell of Dogwood Stable) would reconsider running the horse in next Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (with the $46,056 second-place share, Aikenite pushes his graded stakes earnings to $267,806, more than enough to qualify to enter the race): “I don’t think so. We weren’t thinking about it beforehand. We did not enter with the intentions of trying to accumulate earnings for the Derby.”
JULIEN LEPAROUX (Jockey, Pleasant Prince, third): “We got a good trip. They went fast up front. He ran a good race. No excuses.”
RAMON DOMINGUEZ (Jockey, Eightyfiveinafifty, fourth as favorite): “He’s a very, very fast horse. You can’t really blame it on the pace. It seems to me like the distance might be stretching it a little bit. And the surface probably wasn’t the best for him; he didn’t seem to care too much for it. He’s a very fine sprinter and I think he’ll do quite well at that.”
GARY CONTESSA (Trainer of Eightfiveinafifty): “He’s just too fast for going a route of ground. He’s running so easy on the lead, they go the half in :45 2/5. That’s about as slow as Ramon (Dominguez) could get him to go. “We’ll go back home, regroup and make him the best sprinter in the country. I’ve had that in my mind for a long time, but this was the next increment, this was the next thing to see if he could get the distance. You’re never going to see him going a mile again. Six furlongs. Seven furlongs. The King’s Bishop. The Amsterdam. There are plenty of stakes out there for a horse like this because I really believe he’s one of the best sprinters out there. We’re going to go back, regroup and make him one “
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