Monday, May 7, 2012

Endorsement: Confirming It Is Possible

Endorsement, fresh off an impressive graded stakes victory, seemed to have a very reasonable chance to perform well. Like every other horse expected to run in the race, he had a shot at wearing the coveted garland of red roses while standing before the Twin Spires. But the Wednesday before the 2010 Kentucky Derby (GI) was run, the chestnut son of Distorted Humor was withdrawn from consideration for the race due to a displaced condylar fracture of his right front leg – an injury that would prevent him from racing for over a year and one-half.

Nearly twenty-one months after his three-length victory in the Sunland Derby (GIII), Endorsement finally returned to the races. His return came in a six-furlong allowance optional claiming over Gulfstream Park’s dirt surface, in which he was forwardly placed but could not catch the eventual winner and finished second. Following another runner-up finish in an allowance optional claiming at Gulfstream (this time at one mile), Endorsement broke through with a victory. Not only did he impressively win the mile and one-sixteenth allowance optional claiming at Gulfstream Park by 2 ¼ lengths, but he set a track record while doing so, running the clock to 1:42.35.
Endorsement after winning the Texas Mile
Photo by Mary Cage

Endorsement continued his rise on April 28 in the Texas Mile Stakes (GIII) at Lone Star Park. Forwardly placed, the robust chestnut settled behind the leaders beneath Robby Albarado as the field of ten galloped around the track. Rounding the far turn, the horse surged to the outside of the stakes-winning and graded stakes-placed California shipper, Canonize, and the multiple stakes-winning Lone Star veteran, Coyote Legend. Endorsement battled those two down the homestretch before galloping past Canonize with a sixteenth of a mile left to go. Once he made it to the front, Endorsement effortlessly coasted to a two-length victory under Albarado, who had ridden the horse brilliantly.

Notably, Endorsement contested in the Texas Mile without Salix (Lasix), the common diuretic used to prevent exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) – or bleeding in the airways of a horse’s lungs. The other nine horses that competed in the race ran on the anti-bleeding medication, and interestingly, Endorsement easily defeated them despite the fact that furosemide (Salix) has shown to be performance-enhancing.

When Endorsement was approaching the Triple Crown, he was owned by WinStar Farm, who ended up winning that year’s Kentucky Derby with Super Saver. At the time, Bill Casner was part of the partnership of WinStar Farm with Kenny Troutt, but in October of that year, the partnership was dissolved and Casner focused on his Casner Racing, whose silks display the green diamond with the initials KC scribed in white for Casner’s late daughter, Karri Casner, who tragically lost her life in a 2002 terrorist attack in Bali, Indonesia.

Casner is among those who believe in the prohibition of the use of furosemide. In fact, he contributed to The Blood-Horse of December 3, 2011 (No. 48, Page 3429), in which he wrote the article The Choice to Rebuild the Sport is Clear. In reference to banning Salix, Casner wrote, “Horses will run as well as they did before without Salix, and we will be in step with our global racing community. It is the right thing for the horse and for our industry.”

Pairing with trainer Eoin Harty, Casner has raced a plethora of horses without Salix and has been quite successful. These horses include Dubai World Cup (GI)-winning Well Armed’s full brother, Arm Force, who impressively won a maiden special weight at Gulfstream Park in February, and Right to Vote, a grade one-placed runner who earlier this year triumphed in an allowance optional claiming at Gulfstream.

The fact that horses like Endorsement are succeeding in graded stakes races gives hope that American Thoroughbreds can compete without being medicated with furosemide. This anti-bleeding medication is not used in other nations, which, of course, is one of many arguments that people like Casner use to push for the prohibition of Salix. Personally, I think we should search for ways to ban race-day medication and that organizations like Casner Racing are very important, persuasive, and supportive in the assistance of banning Salix and other medications.

According to the Blood-Horse online article KHRC to Discuss, But Not Vote on, Salix Plan, dated May 7, 2012, "The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission confirmed it will discuss but not take final action May 16 on a proposal for the three-year phase-out of race-day furosemide in graded and listed stakes." You can read the rest of the article, written by Tom LaMarra here.

As for Endorsement, the five-year-old horse is quickly returning to top form and should he keep improving, he could become one of the top handicap horses in the nation. Texas native Bill Casner even hinted after the race that the horse could certainly go on to bigger and better things.

An earner of half-a-million dollars, Endorsement is beautifully bred. His sire is WinStar Farm’s impressive stallion Distorted Humor, the sire of such horses as the Belmont Stakes (GI)- and Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI)-winning Drosselmeyer, the Kentucky Derby- and Preakness Stakes (GI)-winning Funny Cide, and the Travers Stakes (GI)-winning Flower Alley - who is the sire of Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another.

The sire power in Endorsement’s pedigree does not come to a halt there. His broodmare sire is the great A.P. Indy, one of the best horses to ever stand at stud in the United States. Extremely successful with his own offspring, he is also a very productive sire of sires and broodmare sire. Like his own damsire, the great Secretariat, A.P. Indy has proven himself to be a very successful broodmare sire, being the damsire of such horses as the champions Royal Delta and Wait a While, as well as the fellow grade one victors Any Given Saturday, Bluegrass Cat, Morning Line, Mr. Sidney, Plum Pretty, and Super Saver.

Endorsement is not lacking in his dam line, either. Descending from the same female family of many great horses, including Cigar, Northern Dancer, Point Given, and Secretariat, in female family two, Endorsement comes from a dam line full of Argentinian flair. His second through ninth dams are all Argentinian-bred mares, including his third dam, Chaldee. This chestnut granddaughter of Raise a Native was a group two-placed mare who produced four group one winners – two of which were champions – and a multiple group stakes-winning runner. Endorsement’s second dam, one of those champions, was transferred to the United States when her racing career was over, where she produced Endorsement’s dam, the multiple graded stakes-placed Charmed Gift, who was ironically ridden by Robby Albarado in seven of her fifteen starts.

The appearance of the names Distorted Humor and A.P. Indy are not just “pretty faces” in Endorsement’s bloodlines. The cross between the 2011 leading sire and the Hall of Famer has been tremendously successful, producing many graded stakes victors. Among those horses are the grade one winner Any Given Saturday, the grade three winners Brethren and Z Humor, the ungraded stakes winners Al Muhtasib and Bank the Eight, and the graded stakes-placed horses Attempted Humor, Buen Verso, and Cal Nation. It is no surprise that this cross is rewarding, as A.P. Indy mares have typically crossed well with stallions from the Mr. Prospector sire line, producing such horses as the champion Royal Delta (by Empire Maker), the multiple stakes-winning Ravi’s Song (by Unbridled’s Song), the multiple graded stakes-placed And Why Not (by Street Cry), and the multiple grade one-placed Dunkirk (by Unbridled’s Song).

As a horse with spectacular breeding that is capable of succeeding at upper levels of racing without Salix, Endorsement displays the epitome of what a Thoroughbred racehorse should be. Though he received an injury that kept him from competing for over twenty months, he was injured during a time period in which he ran on Salix. Now, the magnificently bred colt is improving and rising through the ranks without the diuretic that is given to most American racehorses. If Endorsement continues his winning ways and improvement, he could set a huge example for American racing. Kudos to Bill Casner and Eoin Harty for the decisions they’ve made with this talented horse!

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