Endorsement Shines at Sunland
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Facing winners for the first time, WinStar Farm's Endorsement shipped to Sunland Park and Casino from Louisiana and handed Triple Crown contender Conveyance his first defeat in the $800,000 Sunland Derby (gr. III) in New Mexico March 28.

In its first year as a graded stakes, the Sunland Derby produced quite a surprise in the 11-1 shot Endorsement, a son of Distorted Humor making his fourth lifetime start. Out of the A.P. Indy mare Charmed Gift, the $450,00 Keeneland yearling purchase in September 2008 was coming off a 2 1/4-length maiden score at Oaklawn Park Feb. 20.

Ridden for the first time by Robby Albarado for trainer Shannon Ritter, Endorsement was in perfect position to challenge the pacesetting Conveyance on the final turn. He took control leaving the eighth pole and drew off to win by three lengths. The final time for the 1 1/8-mile test over a fast track was an excellent 1:48.46, just off the track record of 1:48 1/5 established by Winsham Lad in 1961.

Endorsement earned $400,000 for his Sunland Derby win and is assured of having enough graded stakes earnings to run in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May 1 at Churchill Downs should his connections want to do so.

Zabeel Racing International's Conveyance, who came to Sunland from Southern California for trainer Bob Baffert off back-to-back grade III victories, was unbeaten in four starts. Sent off at 3-5 odds, he had no excuse, getting the lead the way he likes it and posting sensible fractions of :23.71, :48.04 and 1:11.91.

But Endorsement spoiled the perfect setup, sitting about a length off the leader through the early going before moving up effortlessly on the outside to challenge rounding the turn. He soon put a head in front and as he did so, jockey Martin Garcia went to work on the favorite to keep up. As those two left the rest behind, Conveyance kept it close through the mid-point of the stretch run before he began to yield to the surprising Endorsement. The latter finished up powerfully to win going away while ridden out by Albarado.

"He put himself in the race early. He gave himself a chance,'' Albarado said. "Going around the first turn, he was going really easy. Backside, he jumped in the bridle, which is fine, because it was time to go anyway.

"In the turn, I caught the favorite. He was riding but he wasn't gaining any ground. I knew when I'd call on Endorsement, he'd come from underneath me, and he did.''

Conveyance, whom Baffert described as the best horse he had ever brought to Sunland, was a clear second by three lengths and earned $176,000 for second. That gives the son of Indian Charlie total graded earnings of $386,000 and clinches a Kentucky Derby berth.

Baffert was happy with the way Conveyance ran and gave full credit to Endorsement.

"(Conveyance) ran a good race. We just got beat by a really good horse today,'' Baffert said.

"If Endorsement hadn't been in there, I think we would have looked like superstars,'' he added. "We still have a way to go. I would have loved to win this race. But I think the horse that beat us, of all the others I've seen lately, that was pretty impressive. I think we saw a star born today.''

Tempted to Tapit figures to be on the Derby bubble after earning $96,000 for finishing third while never threatening, six lengths behind the winner. Fog Alert was fourth. Mine That Bird ran fourth in this race prior to his stunning upset in last year's Kentucky Derby.

Bred in Kentucky by Kilroy Thoroughbred Partnership, Endorsement began his career running seventh in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs last November. The chestnut colt kicked off his 3-year-old campaign with a second-place finish in a one mile, 40-yard maiden race Jan. 10 at Fair Grounds, where he has continued to train. He shipped to Arkansas to break his maiden as the favorite at Oaklawn Park at 1 1/16 miles six weeks later.

It was the biggest victory as a trainer for Ritter, a former jockey who said the highlight of her eight-year career was once being the leading rider at Portland Meadows. Known as a hands-on trainer who often gets aboard on training rides, she can turn her mind to the Kentucky Derby.

"I'll discuss that with the WinStar crew and take it from there,'' Ritter said. "We'll see how he comes back from the race. He's going to fly back to Kentucky on Tuesday (March 30) morning. We're going to the Keeneland meet. We'll take things from there.''

Endorsement paid $25.40, $8.60 and $4.40. Conveyance returned $2.80 and $2.10, completing a $71.40 exacta. Tempted to Tapit, who ran second in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds in his prior race for trainer Steve Klesaris, was $3 to show with regular rider David Cohen aboard.

In a well-spaced finish, it was two lengths to Fog Alert, who was followed by Nacho Friend, Storming Saint, McKenna's Justice, Classical Slew and Guiltbyassociation.

The track reported it enjoyed the biggest day in its 51-year-old history. A record crowd of 18,564 fans witnessed the first graded race in New Mexico history. A total of $2,390,554 was wagered on Sunland races from off-track sources while the on-track fans bet $408,426. The total handle of $2,798,980 set a track record.
Justify makes history with Belmont S. (G1) win title=

Justify makes history with Belmont S. (G1) win

Justify certified his place in racing immortality when he won 150th Belmont S. (G1), defeating Gronkowski by nearly to length to become the 13th winner of the historic Triple Crown...

[read more]

King Humor rules in the Ocala Flame S. title=
Distorted Humor

King Humor rules in the Ocala Flame S.

Undefeated King Humor quickly recovered after a slow start to lead nearly the entire way in the $75,000 Ocala Flame S. on June 7 at Gulfstream Park, ultimately winning by a half-length. The 3-year-old Distorted Humor colt is now three-for-three lifetime, with all three of his wins coming at Gulfstream for owner Heczor Investments Corp. and trainer Victor Barboza, Jr. The chestnut colt's earnings stand at $101,235. A bit tardy at the break, King Humor rushed to the lead soon after. Zipping through the first half-mile in :44.98, he dug in gamely in the stretch to hold off Powerful Venezuela to earn his first stakes victory. The Kentucky-bred winner is the second foal out of the Pleasant Tap mare Taptam, a six-time stakes winner who also placed in the Apple Blossom H. (G1). Distorted Humor is the sire of 145 lifetime stakes winners and 67 graded stakes winners worldwide. This year, his runners have earned nearly $3 million to date and won or placed in 11 stakes.

[read more]

Justify draws post 1 for Belmont S. (G1) title=

Justify draws post 1 for Belmont S. (G1)

Justify's Triple Crown quest in Saturday's Belmont S. (G1) will begin from the inside post position in the field of 10 3-year-olds going the 1 ½-mile “Test of Champions”...

[read more]

Justify has final pre-Belmont S. (G1) workout title=

Justify has final pre-Belmont S. (G1) workout

Justify completed his major prep work for the June 9 Belmont S. (G1) with a five-furlong breeze on Monday morning at Churchill Downs...

[read more]

Mr Paytience trounces foes in TDN Rising Star performance title=
Paynter

Mr Paytience trounces foes in TDN Rising Star performance

Mr Paytience's victory in a maiden special weight contest Sunday at Santa Anita Park was one of the most dynamic wins for a 2-year-old thus far this year...

[read more]

Gallant Catholic Boy prevails in Pennine Ridge S. (G3) title=
More Than Ready

Gallant Catholic Boy prevails in Pennine Ridge S. (G3)

Catholic Boy made one of the most remarkable comebacks of the year in Saturday's Pennine Ridge S. (G3) at Belmont Park...

[read more]

Undefeated Tiznow filly scores first stakes win title=
Tiznow

Undefeated Tiznow filly scores first stakes win

Sirenusa ran her record to a perfect 3-for-3 three with a three-length score in the Northbound Pride Oaks on Memorial Day at Canterbury Park...

[read more]

Analyze the Odds storms home to take the Mike Lee S. title=
Overanalyze

Analyze the Odds storms home to take the Mike Lee S.

Analyze the Odds came from last to first in the final quarter-mile to win the $125,000 Mike Lee S. at Belmont Park on Memorial Day...

[read more]

Dark Artist breaks through in Monmouth's Boiling Spring S. title=
Paynter

Dark Artist breaks through in Monmouth's Boiling Spring S.

Dark Artist, a 3-year-old Paynter filly, earned her first stakes win in Saturday's $75,000 Boiling Springs S. at Monmouth Park...

[read more]

F-T Midlantic Sale closes with $300,000 Bodemeister colt title=
Bodemeister

F-T Midlantic Sale closes with $300,000 Bodemeister colt

Leading Third-Crop sire Bodemeister's top seller at the May 21-22 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in Training Sale came on Tuesday...

[read more]