Ike and Dawn Thrash’s Hurricane Ike
, ridden with resolution throughout Saturday’s featured $75,000 Tenacious Handicap by jockey James Graham, held on with good courage after making the pace to prevail by a neck in the 48th running of the 1 1/16-mile test.
“He’s a tough old bird,” said Graham immediately after the Fair Grounds feature. “He tries his heart out every time and that’s always been a big bonus for us.”
Trained by Mike Stidham, Hurricane Ike paid mutuels of $11.40, $6 and $4.20, toured the distance in 1:45.70 after recording early fractions of 24.76 and 49.45, and increased his career earnings to $568,070 with his sixth victory in 27 lifetime starts.
Winchell Thoroughbreds and Win-Star Farm’s favored Brethren pressed the early pace, came up to challenge on even terms throughout most of the stretch run, could not get by the winner but was easily second best, finishing 2 1/4-lengths to the good of Maggi Moss’s It Happened Again.
Brethren paid $5.60 and $3.40 and It Happened Again returned $3.20 in the show spot.Winner’s QuotesJockey James Graham:
“He got out on the lead and he threw his ears up. They were going slow but I always had pressure; there was always somebody there. He jumped the shadows a little bit down the backside and I had to help him back, try and keep him in a spot where he wouldn’t be jumping at them. He finished up really good. I thought he might duck at the wire and I said, ‘Please don’t duck out at the wire.’ But he ran a really good race.”
Trainer Michael Stidham:
“When the 49 and change went up that was nice to see. I think today showed if he gets things a little bit his way he can carry a distance. Everyone was saying, oh, he can’t go over a mile. I think he can carry it as far as he wants to go.”
“Certainly he’ll be nominated to all these [Fair Grounds] stakes. We’ll definitely stay here at the Fair Grounds and we will run in the other stakes that come up for him and we’ll try him in a little further if he continues to do well.”
“The question has always been would he get the mile-and-a-sixteenth and obviously today he showed he could. I think James rode him very well. When the half was 49 and 2 or 3 that kind of really told the tale because he is a very game horse when he gets hooked down the lane he always digs in and tries his hardest.”