Endow Takes California Derby

Kentucky Derby is out, trainer says

By Larry Bornstein/ The Register

Albany-After riding Endow to victory in the California Derby on Saturday, jockey Amir cedeno admitted he wouldn't mind shooting for the moon.

"If this horse is going to the Kentucky Derby, I hope I can go, too," Cedeno said after Endow upset 4-5 shot Flying Continental by a half-length in the $250,000, 1 1/8 mile race at Golden Gate Fields.

Winning trainer Laz Barrera wasted no time in making certain Cedeno's ambitions were rooted to earth.

Speaking by phone from Santa Anita, where he watched his colt win for the fifth time in nine starts, Barrera said Endow will not run for the roses at Churchill Downs.

Earlier in the week, Barrera said a California Derby victory might earn Endow a trip to Louisville, KY.

But he said Saturday, referring to pre-Kentucky Derby favorites Easy Goer and Sunday Silence:"Why run against those two tough horses? We can stay in the bushes (run in lesser races) and make a lot of money with this colt."

Racing four wide on the first turn, Endow took the lead from front-running Malagra in the stretch and gradually pulled away to win i 1:49 2/5.

Flying Continental, second to Sunday Silence in the Santa Anita Derby two weeks earlier, couldn't keep up with the winner in the last sixteenth of a mile.

Briartic Chief took third by a half-length from Malagra, a D.Wayne Lukas trainee who set slow early fractions under Gary Stevens at 23 seconds for the quarter-mile, 47 seconds for the half and 1:11 for six furlongs.

Even if Cedeno misses a shot at the May 6 Kentucky Derby, if he remains part of the Endow team, he will have few complaints.

It's unusual enough that a virtually unknown Panamanian-born rider has a mount of Endow's caliber. In his first few months of riding on the Southern California circuit, Cedeno, 26, has been, to say the least, struggling.

He has ridden one winner-trained by Mel Stute-in 42 trips to the post and has four seconds, two of those on horses trained by his wife, Leslie DiFiore, who is winless with seven starters.

But he has been galloping horses for Barrera for several months and his agent is Camilo Marin, Jr., whose late father, also an agent, was a lifelong friend of Barrera.

Because none of the leading riders at Santa Anita would give up a day's worth of business to ride Endow in the $50,000 Sausalito Stakes two weeks ago, Barrera gave the shot to jockey represented by his old friend's boy.

Endow won the Sausalito, and after Saturday Cedeno is batting 1.000 in stakes, because he has ridden in no money added races but the two he has won with Endow.

Barrera acknowledged that Cedeno was not his first choice to ride Endow on Saturday.

"Even though he won the Sausalito, Amir probably moved to the leader sooner than he should have," Barrera said. "For a $250,000 race, I wanted a more experienced rider. I tried to get Gary Stevens, but he was commited to Wayne's horse. So we told Amir to go up there.

Joe Garcia, Barrera's chief assistant, was here to saddle Endow.

"We didn't want Malagra stealing the race on the lead, so told Amir to lay up close and ask him to run the last part, and the colt would give him everything he had," Garcia said.

A urine sample from Endow, passed after he one his first start August 31 at Del Mar, recently tested positive for cocaine.

"It has been tough on everybody in the barn, Laz, me and all the help," Garcia said. "But eventually, we hope everything will be OK."