Continuing his comeback from an injury that knocked him off the 2010 Triple Crown trail, Endorsement swept past 11-10 choice Canonize in deep stretch to win the $200,000 Texas Mile (gr. III) at Lone Star Park April 28. (VIDEO)
Endorsement was reunited with jockey Robby Albarado, who teamed with the 5-year-old son of Distorted Humor to win the 2010 Sunland Derby (gr. III) by three lengths in March 2010. Sent off at odds of 5-2 in the Texas Mile, Endorsement overcame some traffic issues rounding the far turn to defeat Canonize by two lengths. He was timed in 1:36.69 over a fast track.
Now trained by Eoin Harty for Bill and Susan Casner, Endorsement has two wins and two seconds in four starts since launching his comeback at Gulfstream Park in December. Since making his return to the races, Endorsement has raced without Lasix.
"The older he gets, the better he gets," Harty said from the winner's circle. “I want to give full compliments to a very professional jockey. It was a very professional ride. I told Robby, put this horse on the lead and stay off the fence. Things didn't work out that way when the gates opened. When you've got a cool rider, and experienced rider, you get these results."
Kilroy Thoroughbred Partnership bred Endorsement in Kentucky. The chestnut horse is out of the A.P. Indy filly Charmed Gift.
The Texas Mile was the first stakes appearance for Endorsement since the Sunland Derby. He sustained a non-displaced right front condylar fracture in a workout at Churchill Downs the week before the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Trapped along the rail on the far turn, a patient Albarado waited for room, then guided the stalking Endorsement to the outside and ran down Southern California invader Canonize. The favorite had first run on his main rival in the 10-horse field with Victor Espinoza aboard. Canonize opened up a daylight lead approaching mid-stretch as Endorsement moved into second. But near the sixteenth pole, Endorsement switched leads and took off to win going away under steady handing.
Albarado said he wanted the lead but others were quicker away from the gate. "I had to call an audible on the first turn (to save ground)," he said. "I stayed in there longer than I wanted. But when I got out, he ran on."
The jockey recalled that after winning the Sunland Derby more than two years ago, he thought Endorsement was going to be the horse that got him to the Kentucky Derby winner's circle. “I’ve ridden quite a few Kentucky Derbies and I thought he was the one. Unfortunately he got injured, but the fortunate thing is he got back.”
Canonize, who stalked on the outside of pacesetter Lydia's Last Step before taking the lead from Coyote Legend in the stretch, settled for second by 1 3/4 lengths over Get in Da House. The latter rallied from eighth at the quarter pole to get up for third with Don Simington riding.
Lydia's Last Step set solid fraction of :23.70 and :46.97 before Coyote Legend took over at the quarter pole and led the field into the stretch after completing six furlongs in 1:11.42. Coyote Legend, who battled Canonize before giving in at the furlong marker, weakened to fourth.
Endorsement, who shipped to Grand Prairie from Keeneland, earned $110,000 for the victory while improving his career mark to 4-3-0 in eight lifetime starts. He has banked $585,833.
“It’s so much fun to win this race at Lone Star Park, in my hometown,” said owner Bill Casner. “This horse is a really special horse. He is a typical Distorted Humor. He’s got so much grit and try. He ran just an incredibly gritty race today, and Robby rode him to a tee. Just couldn’t be happier.”
Noting that it took 1 1/2 years to bring Endorsement back to the races, he added: "It was a long slow path, but he's proved that it was worth it. This horse, I truly believe, has the ability to win a grade I race. We're expecting big things from him."
Endorsement carried 117 pounds and paid $7, $3.40, $2.80. Jay Em Ess Stable's Canonize, trained by Ron Ellis, was sent off as the heavy favorite after winning the Santana Mile at Santa Anita March 18. He returned $2.80 and $2.80, and rounded out an all-favorite exacta worth $19.40. Louisiana-bred Get in Da House, trained by Wesley Hawley, paid $5.60 to show.
Coyote Legend was followed by Moonshine Mullin, Oak Motte, Omniscient, Lydia's Last Step, Fifteen Love, and Hurricane Ike.