WinStar Farm’s Endorsement completed the Keeneland segment of his preparations for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) April 17 by working five furlongs in company in 1:01.60 with trainer Shannon Ritter up.
Breaking off five lengths behind a workmate, Endorsement posted fractions of :13.60, :26.60, :38.40, :49.40 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 and seven furlongs in 1:27.40. Endorsement blew past his co-worker nearing the end of the far turn and was 10 lengths in front at the wire.
“I started him off a little slow because I wanted him to relax off the other horse,” Ritter said. “(On the turn) he couldn’t wait any longer. He finished up strong—the last three-eighths in 35 (seconds)—and galloped out well.”
Winner of the Sunland Park Derby (gr. III) March 28, Endorsement worked a half-mile in :46.80 at Keeneland April 9 with Ritter up. The colt will leave for Churchill Downs April 18 and be stabled in Barn 19 at the Louisville track.
“The rest of the horses will stay here,” said Ritter, who has 11 other horses in Lexington. “I will probably go back and forth and if I have some horses to work, I will come over here early in the morning.”
Ritter, who never has had a Kentucky Derby starter as a trainer but was the regular exercise rider for 1998 Derby runner-up Victory Gallop, said Endorsement would work April 25 at Churchill, where he made his racing debut last November.
Robby Albarado, who rode Endorsement for the first time at Sunland Park, has committed to ride Endorsement in the Kentucky Derby.
“I haven’t decided yet who will work him,” Ritter said, “but it will probably be me.”