Updated on 02/02/2012 5:40PM

Gulfstream Park: Endorsement looking at graded stakes after win

Barbara D. Livingston
Endorsement will go in a graded stakes for his next start.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Endorsement came within days of participating in the 2010 Kentucky Derby, only to be sidelined by a condylar fracture discovered shortly after an impressive workout on the morning entries were to be taken for the race. Now, the talented colt is ready to return to top-level competition once again following his easy 2 1/4-length allowance victory here Wednesday.

Endorsement, a son of Distorted Humor, was making his third start on the comeback trail for owner Bill Casner and trainer Eoin Harty. Breaking from the rail, Endorsement was allowed to set a leisurely pace under jockey Julien Leparoux, opened a commanding advantage near midstretch, and won with something left. His final time of 1:42.35 was the fastest posted since 1 1/16-mile races were re-instated with a second finish line at Gulfstream Park at the beginning of the 2011-12 meet.

Endorsement was owned by WinStar Farm when he won the Grade 3 Sunland Derby for trainer Shannon Ritter as a prep for the 2010 Derby. Casner bought out WinStar’s interest in the horse during Endorsement’s rehab period in 2011, according to Harty.

“I didn’t realize he’d set a track record until Brian [assistant trainer Brian Ainge] brought it to my attention,” Harty said by phone from his regular base at Santa Anita. “I was really surprised he could have set a record off those slow fractions he set, although I guess they haven’t run that many races at the distance up to this point.”

Harty said he hasn’t sat down and mapped out a plan for Endorsement’s next start, but said it would definitely come around two turns and in a graded stakes.

“Originally, we had talked about setting the Dubai World Cup as a goal while he was rehabbing, but I don’t think I’ve done enough with him yet to get him there this year,” Harty said. “I suppose our options would include the Santa Anita Handicap, the Oaklawn Handicap, or the New Orleans Handicap. The only potential race down there would be the Gulfstream Park Handicap, but that’s at a mile and I don’t want to turn him back. I think this horse is definitely at his best around two turns.”