LOUISVILLE — WinStar Farm's Endorsement, winner of the Grade III Sunland Derby on March 28, will miss the Kentucky Derby after suffering a non-displaced lateral condylar fracture of his right front ankle during his 4-furlong workout at Churchill Downs on Wednesday.
Endorsement had the fastest 4-furlong workout of the day, but trainer Shannon Ritter, who was aboard the colt, said she felt him start going lame on the walk back.
"I was just letting him cool out a little bit, I didn't even notice it right away until we had been further down the road walking," said Ritter, who was attempting to become the first female trainer to saddle a Derby winner.
Elliott Walden, racing manager for WinStar Farm, said he did not believe the injury was career-ending but that more would be known after the colt undergoes surgery, which is likely to take place on Thursday.
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"It's disappointing for the whole WinStar family, especially for Shannon," Walden said. "She's done a great job with this horse and hopefully he'll be back. The X-rays look pretty straight forward."
Attending veterinarian Bo Landry said if the surgery goes well, Endorsement could heal in three to six months.
"I'm sure they will take the longer road (with his recovery) because he's a talented horse and they want to do what is best for him," Landry added.
Endorsement had won two of four career starts. He put himself into the Derby picture when he upset graded stakes winner Conveyance by 3 lengths in the Sunland Derby.
WinStar Farm began the week with four Derby contenders, but with Rule and Endorsement now out, the operation's hopes for a first Derby victory now lay with Super Saver and American Lion.
Interactif skips Derby
Shortly after news of Endorsement's injury came down, trainer Todd Pletcher announced that Interactif would not run in the Derby.
Interactif is a multiple graded stakes winner on the turf and his connections had been debating whether to try him in the Derby.
Wednesday's defections opened the door for Grade II winner Backtalk and Make Music for Me, whose lone career win came in the Pasadena Stakes, to get into the Derby field.
"Even though we didn't find out until Wednesday we were getting into the race, all along we've been planning as if we were going to run so it hasn't affected his preparation," said Tom Amoss, trainer of Backtalk.