04/26/2012 4:29PM

Lone Star Park: Canonize could get the trip in Texas Mile


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas – There is no shortage of quality speed in the Grade 3, $200,000 Texas Mile at Lone Star Park on Saturday. Canonize is coming off a stakes win at the distance in a rapid 1:33.89. Endorsement set a track record in his most recent start, while Hurricane Ike put up strong fractions last out in his first race since October.

The horses are all leading contenders in the Texas Mile, which is the first major stakes of the meet. The field of 10 stakes winners also includes Coyote Legend, a front-runner coming off a runner-up finish in the $150,000 Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston, and Lydia’s Last Step, a speed horse who drew the rail for his first two-turn start of the year Saturday.

Canonize might be able to get a tracking trip from post 8, behind Hurricane Ike, Lydia’s Last Step, and Endorsement, all of whom are drawn to his inside. Canonize used such tactics in his last start, when in his two-turn debut he raced about a length off the pace in the $71,000 Santana Mile at Santa Anita. Canonize then went on to a half-length win in what was the fastest mile of the track’s winter meet, said trainer Ron Ellis.

“He sat off a pretty fast pace,” said Ellis. “He was coming off a very good race sprinting, where he had some trouble. He had gotten shut off in the inside [in the Grade 2 San Carlos], facing top-class sprinters.

“We always thought he would go a middle distance, and never had a chance to try him. Going two turns, he ran like we would have hoped.”

Canonize defeated Grade 2 winner Gladding in the Santana Mile, while it was another eight lengths back in third to Honour the Deputy. Victor Espinoza was aboard, and has the mount in the Texas Mile.

Endorsement won a second-level allowance at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 1, and his time of 1:42.35 for the mile and a sixteenth was the fastest for the distance since the track brought back races at that trip in 2011. The horse will break from post 3 in the Texas Mile.

“I would expect him to be, if not on the lead then certainly close to it,” said trainer Eoin Harty. “It seems to be his style of running.”

Harty hopes the Texas Mile will be the beginning of a strong second half of the year for Endorsement.

“This is our agenda right now, and hopefully, we can keep stepping it up on him,” he said. “I think he’s that kind of horse. I think he’s a Grade 1 horse, and a Grade 1 is the ultimate goal this summer.”

Robby Albarado will ride Endorsement, with whom he won the 2010 running of the Grade 3 Sunland Derby.

Hurricane Ike will be making his second start of the year after running second in an $80,000 optional claiming allowance at seven furlongs at Keeneland on April 7. It was a rare synthetic-track start for the horse who in 2010 won the Grade 3 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs.

“I thought it was really a nice race,” said trainer Jeffrey Thornbury. “We had him at the Fair Grounds all winter, just trying to get him ready for the spring. He came back [to Kentucky] and worked very nicely over the Polytrack, and that’s what made us decide to run him at Keeneland.”

James Graham was aboard, and has the mount again Saturday.

“I think he’ll be up close,” Thornbury said of Hurricane Ike. “That’s kind of his modus operandi. He’s pretty quick.”

The Texas Mile is the first leg of a new triple covering races at both Lone Star and its sister track, Remington Park. The series features a $20,000 owner-trainer bonus to the connections of the horse who accumulates the most points based on finishes in the three stakes, the others being the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap on May 28 and the $200,000 Governor’s Cup at Remington on Aug. 18.