HOT SPRINGS, AR – Whitmore remained undefeated sprinting with his 3 3/4-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 3, $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap.
Trained by Ron Moquett and ridden by Ricardo Santana, Jr., Whitmore completed the 6 furlong trek in 1:08.35.
“That’s an unbelievable horse,” said Santana, Jr. “He is one of the best horses that I ride right now. He broke good, he was in the position I wanted, and he was in the perfect position. He didn’t have any trouble, it was a clean trip. When he turned for home, he took his class out. He’s a really good horse.”
Whitmore earned $240,000 for the victory, bringing his career earnings to $877,000, and increased his 2017 Oaklawn record to a perfect 3-for-3, including the Hot Springs Stakes last out.
“I think he’s still learning this new game, but he likes it a lot,” said Moquett. “It’s easy on him. Someone asked me earlier, ‘How did you teach him to sprint?’ I said, ‘That’s not the training feat. The training feat was getting him to be third in the Arkansas Derby and second in the Rebel.’ He’s always wanted to do this.”
Whitmore is unbeaten since Moquett switched to racing him in sprints after he finished 19th in the 2016 Kentucky Derby.
“You always say, ‘Well if he duplicates the last race, then he’ll be hard to beat,’” Moquett said. “And then, in the last race, he did. I knew there were some decent horses, and he duplicated it again. Today, I was really pleased he did it in this race. I’m in the barn named for Count Fleet; I wanted to win this race.”
After tracking in fifth early, Whitmore took command at the top of the stretch and drew off impressively. The next four horses finished within a length of each other: Apprehender came from the rear late to finish second, Holy Boss held on for third after spending the entire race in second, Chief Cicatriz got fourth after leading through the first 1/2 mile, and Chief of Staff split horses late for fifth. Moe Candy, Black Bear, Wabel, and Sharp Art completed the order of finish.
“He ran great, just a neat horse,” Holy Boss jockey Mike Smith said. “I mean, I love him. The winner is just really, really good right now. He’s at the top of his game. But my horse ran great. I can’t complain.”
Whitmore returned $3, $2.60, and $2.10. Apprehender brought back $12.40 and $4.40, while Holy Boss paid $3.80 to show.