01/30/2012 2:26PM

Gulfstream Park: Endorsement sitting on big race in optional claimer

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Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Eoin Harty has high hopes for Endorsement in 2012.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer Eoin Harty says he’s expecting big things out of Endorsement this season, beginning with a victory in Wednesday’s $56,500 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park.

Endorsement will be making his third start since suffering a condylar fracture just days before the 2010 Kentucky Derby. A son of Distorted Humor owned by Casner Racing LP, Endorsement has finished second in each of his first two tries on the comeback trail, at six furlongs here on Dec. 10 and a mile on New Year’s Day. He’ll stretch out to 1 1/16 miles in Wednesday’s main event.

Endorsement broke through the gate prior to the start, rallied wide to make the lead in early stretch, but could not withstand Troilus in his 2012 debut. Endorsement was a Grade 3 winner at 3, when under the care of trainer Shannon Ritter.

“I was very happy with his first race and confident he would win the second one, but he banged himself pretty good at the gate, ran in snatches for whatever reason, and was second again,” Harty said. “He was exhausted and distressed after the race, but he got his bell rung a little bit when hitting the gate, so that probably explains why.”

Harty said there is no reason why Endorsement can’t be as good this year as when he was stopped on at 3.

“He’s bounced out of his last race fine, worked very well since then, and he should be sitting on go for this race,” Harty said. “I think he’s a really talented horse, I expect him to win on Wednesday, and I’m hoping he’ll be a graded stakes performer this year, just like he was in the past.”

Endorsement also will have the advantage of breaking from post 1, a distinct edge considering the short run to the first turn in races carded at 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream. His chief competition could come from the horse in post 3, Golden Gulch, who returns to allowance company after finishing sixth in the Grade 3 Discovery in his 2011 finale. Golden Gulch was second, beaten a head by Cool Blue Red Hot, under second-level allowance conditions five weeks earlier.

Praetereo closed his 2011 campaign with a series of good efforts, including an entry-level allowance win over a muddy strip at Belmont Park and a second behind Adios Charlie here earlier in the meet.

Numb Lips goes from turf to dirt for the red-hot Agustin Bezara who has won with 4 of his 11 starters at the meet. Numb Lips returns to the main track off a much-needed turf outing when taking on higher-priced optional claiming opposition making his first start in nearly six months on Dec. 31.