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an excerpt from "California Calling Card"

Endow won the California Derby but will forgo a trip to Kentucky

By Darryl Hove

Perhaps the story of the 1989 California Derby was not Endow, but jockey (Amir) Cedeno. A product of Panama, Cedeno followed a steady stream of his countrymates to the United States in 1986.

"I was the leading apprentice in Panama during 1984," the 26-year-old Cedeno said, "but the dream of all jockeys there is to come to the U.S."

Success has not come overnight for Cedeno, however. He has spent most of his two-plus years here galloping horses for Mel Stute. And he had little to do with his "big break" to ride Endow. Rather it was his agent, a son of the late Camilo Marin, a longtime friend of (Laz) Barrera's who passed away earlier this year.

"I couldn't get anyone from Santa Anita to ride Endow in the Sausalito," Barrera said."I put Amir on him because Camilo's kid has his book."

Cedeno not only did not work horses for Barrera, but until he walked into the Golden Gate Fields paddock prior to the Sausalito, he had never even seen Endow.

"That day, they told me if I win, I get to come back," the rider said.

It was not easy however. Endow and Cedeno won the Sausalito, but right up until entry time for the California Derby, Barrera was still shopping for another jockey. Again, he came up short, and again, Cedeno got the call.

When he won the $57,100 Sausalito, Cedeno earned his biggest paycheck ever prior to the Derby. And what was the biggest purse he ever won in Panama? "There's not much money down there," he shrugged, "maybe $5000.00"

The Cal Derby was worth $137,500 for Harbor View Farm, of which Cedeno presumably collected 10%.

It was Endow's fifth win in nine career starts. After three wins and a second in his initial four starts as a two-year-old, he turned in a pair of dismal races in the Hollywood Prevue (G3) and Hoist The Flag (G2) Stakes.

"It turned out he had popped a splint," said Barrera, "but he's come back good. I've always said this was a good colt. He's tough and he'll improve." Barrera obviously does not think Endow will improve enough to try Easy Goer or Sunday Silence.