Former CBY jock, now trainer, wins Sunland Derby

Ritter earns biggest win as trainer

Posted: 03/29/2010 12:00:00 AM MDT
By Felix Chavez
El Paso Times

SUNLAND PARK – Shannon Ritter loves horses, loves to work hard and has plenty of respect from those close to her.

On Sunday afternoon at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, the 45-year-old trainer won her biggest race of her career when her up and coming 3-year-old, Endorsement roared to a win in the 8th running of the one and 1/8th mile Sunland Derby.

The race was worth $400,000 to the winner.

“I’m a hands on type of trainer, this is a great feeling to win this race,” said Ritter, who hails from St. Paul, Minn.

Previously, Ritter’s biggest victory came with a horse named West Coast Swing in a $75,000 race two years ago.

Ritter, who has been a trainer for five years, has learned under the guidance of trainer Elliott Walden, who is the racing manager for WinStar Farm.

Ritter has a long history in the sport as a jockey. She rode horses at Portland Meadows and Canterbury Downs. She won a racing title at Portland Meadows during the 1990-91 season. She was a jockey for nearly eight years before becoming a trainer.

“I never thought I’d be a trainer, I loved riding so much,” Ritter said.

Her riding exploits have helped her as a trainer in many ways in part because it gives her a feel for how the horse is feeling. She has galloped such standouts as Menifee, Victory Gallop and Distorted Humor.

Her work with Endorsement drew rave reviews from Endorsement owner Bill Casner and jockey Robby Albarado.

“Horses don’t get to the winners circle all by themselves,” Casner said. “Shannon did a great job in preparing Endorsement for the Sunland Derby and she really knows how to handle horses well. She has so much knowledge of the sport and knows how to get a horse prepared.”Added Albarado: “Shannon has a great feel for the horse and she works very hard to get a horse prepared for a race.”

With Sunday’s win, Endorsement is likely headed to the Kentucky Derby on May 1 and a win there would certainly be the biggest of Ritter’s career. But for now, she’s happy to be on the Derby trail as a head trainer.

“Endorsement really has been improving,” Ritter said. “He ran solid in his last race at Oaklawn Park and we hope he keep improving. He has a lot of ability.”

Felix Chavez can be reached at fchavez@elpasotimes.com ; 546-6374

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