Whitmore Works His Way Into the Southwest; Smith to Ride
Whitmore will make his next start in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 at Oaklawn, co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs said Monday morning.
Co-owner Harry Rosenblum said later Monday morning that Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will ride Whitmore for the first time in the Southwest, a major Kentucky Derby prep race that offers 17 qualifying points toward starting eligibility, including 10 to the winner.
Moquett had been leaning toward the 1 1/16-mile Southwest for the last couple of weeks, but said he wanted to see the Pleasantly Perfect gelding work once more before finalizing a decision. The trainer gave the green light after Whitmore, in company with two stablemates, including multiple stakes winner Far Right, worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.60 over fast track on a sunny, windy Monday morning under his wife/assistant, Laura.
Far Right (ridden by Smith) won last year’s Southwest and his major objective this spring, Moquett said, is the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses April 16 at Oaklawn.
“The work was a maintenance breeze for Far Right and a question-asking breeze for Whitmore,” Moquett said. “It was just a typical maintenance deal. Very proud of them. You’ve got to be excited about the works and, thank goodness, all my horses worked good today.”
Whitmore breezed about 25 minutes after the track opened with Far Right and How About You Dude, a 3-year-old Arkansas-bred maiden colt. From the half-mile pole, the gelding, on the inside, started about two lengths ahead of Far Right and was about two lengths ahead of the 4-year-old ridgling at the regular finish line. The trio worked into a 22-mile northwest wind down the backstretch and on the turn.
Moquett requested a 5-furlong time from clockers after Whitmore galloped out to the 7-furlong pole. Far Right, nominated to Saturday’s $100,000 Essex Handicap at Oaklawn, was credited with a half-mile in :47.60. How About You Dude received :48.
Whitmore, in his 3-year-old debut and first start in blinkers, was a sharp 3 ¼-length entry-level allowance/optional claiming winner sprinting Jan. 16 at Oaklawn under Didiel Osorio. After winning his Nov. 6 career debut sprinting at Churchill Downs, Whitmore, in his two-turn debut, ran fifth in the $1 million Delta Jackpot Stakes (G3) Nov. 21 at Delta Downs in his final start at 2.
Other Southwest Works
Z Royal breezed 5 furlongs in 1:01 about five minutes after the track opened for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Gary Stevens will have the mount in the Southwest, Lukas said.
Suddenbreakingnews worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.40 after the break for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel.
Southwest candidate Torrontes worked 5 furlongs in 1:02.20 under jockey Channing Hill after the break Monday morning for trainer Kellyn Gorder. He worked in company with Essex Handicap probable Jump Start, who was ridden by assistant trainer Johnny Ortiz.
In addition to Whitmore, Z Royal, Suddenbreakingnews and Torrontes, eight other horses were considered probables Monday for the Southwest – Discreetness, Collected, Gordy Florida, Synchrony, Luna de Loco, Bird of Trey, Cutacorner and American Dubai.
Trainer Kenny McPeek said War Stroll, a Jan. 28 maiden winner at Oaklawn, is under consideration for the Southwest.
Discreetness beat Suddenbreakingnews by a nose to win the $250,000 Springboard Mile Stakes Dec 13 at Remington Park before winning the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 18 at Oaklawn. Trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs said he will probably work the colt Wednesday morning.
Gordy Florida and Synchrony ran second and third, respectively, in the Smarty Jones.
Collected won the $100,000 Sham Stakes (G3) Jan. 9 at Santa Anita for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has won the Southwest four times since 2010.
The Southwest, Oaklawn’s second major steppingstone to the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16, closed Feb. 5 with 60 nominations.
Post positions will be drawn Friday morning.
Source: Oaklawn Park