HOT SPRINGS, AR – William and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s Mitole showed that he is a mighty force in the older male sprint division when he took the field gate-to-wire in Saturday’s Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park.
Breaking quickly along the rail as the 2/5 favorite under Ricardo Santana, Jr., Mitole took command but was soon met with surprising pressure from Whitmore, whose style is not to race on the front-end. The two dueled through opening fractions of :22.49 and :45.54, and at the top of the stretch, it appeared that a match race was in order. Mitole, however, had other plans and quickly dispatched of his foe.
Driving off late, the Steve Asmussen trainee crossed with a 2 3/4-length advantage in a final time of 1:09.36 for the 6-furlong sprint over the sloppy (sealed) main track.
Whitmore was much the best of the rest, finishing 7 lengths ahead of Bourbon Cowboy, who necked out Operation Stevie for third. Storm Advisory was never a factor and completed the order of finish.
Mitole’s win was his first in a graded event and his fifth straight overall, dating back to a pair of dominating stakes victories in the Bachelor and the Chick Lang before an injury sidelined him for nine months. The 4-year-old son of Eskendereya now carries a record of 9-6-2-1 with $701,510 earned.
“To win his first graded stakes is special,” Asmussen said. “He’s an elite caliber horse. He handles the wet track extremely well. He won the Chick Lang under similar conditions. He broke well and was fast to the wire. Very grateful to have him in our barn.”
Mitole returned $2.80 to win, $2.10 to place, and $2.10 to show. Whitmore brought back $2.10 to place and $2.10 to show, while Bourbon Cowboy paid $2.20 to show.