BALTIMORE, MD – Southern Springs Stables, Robert LaPenta, and Head of Plains Partners’ Whitmore swept past dueling leaders A.P. Indian and Awesome Banner past the 1/8 pole to notch a popular 1/2-length victory in the 31st running of Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Maryland Sprint at Pimlico Race Course.
It was the second straight graded stakes triumph for Whitmore, who was favored at 6-5 in a competitive field of nine accomplished sprinters, and his fifth consecutive win overall – all since being switched to sprint distances by trainer Ron Moquett.
“I’m happy we came over,” said Moquett. “I said that it was going to take a track record to win this, but that was before the rain yesterday. I know he’s a fast horse and he’s running against very fast horses. I’ve got a lot of confidence in (jockey) Ricardo (Santana, Jr.). I told him that he was on the best horse and ride him with confidence. I know how he finishes. He closes like a freight train.”
A.P. Indian, a multiple Grade 1 winner last year and Eclipse Award finalist for champion sprinter, broke running and was joined up front by Holy Boss and Awesome Banner as the trio battled through early fractions of :22.97, :46.95, and :57.54 for 5 furlongs.
Holy Boss couldn’t keep up as A.P. Indian and Awesome Banner pulled away until Whitmore came flying on the far outside, passing both and completing the 6 furlongs in a swift 1:09.90 over a main track labeled as good.
“I have a lot of confidence in this horse,” said Santana, Jr. “He’ll run in any position you put him in – in front or off the pace. He broke good and just sat back comfortably. The second they cleared, he broke away running. He was getting out when dirt was hitting him in the face a little bit, but I had confidence in him. As soon as I asked him, he started running.”
A.P. Indian checked in second, a head in front of Awesome Banner. It was 5 3/4 lengths back to Holy Boss in fourth. Laki, Classy Class, Sonny Inspired, Never Gone South, and Rockinn On Bye completed the order of finish.
Whitmore was on the Triple Crown trail last winter and spring at Oaklawn Park, doing well enough to earn a trip to the Kentucky Derby, but he was never in contention, finishing 19th. He didn’t race again for seven months and returned a sprinter, this year winning the Hot Springs Stakes and the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn.
Whitmore returned $4.40, $2.80, and $2.40. A.P. Indian brought back $2.80 and $2.60, while Awesome Banner paid $6.60 to show.
Additional Race Quotes
Trainer Arnaud Delacour, A.P. Indian: “I thought he ran a good race. I’m not sure that he wanted to be in front like that. Obviously, the winner is a really nice horse and came with a huge run at the end. We were probably second-best on the day, I think.
“I think he ran a really good race, but I do think this division is really tough this year. There’s a couple of horses that I think are very good horses, and A.P. Indian is one of them. But it’s a little tougher than last year.
“I will be looking at the stakes races he ran in last year in New York, Belmont and Saratoga.”
Jockey Javier Castellano, Awesome Banner: “He broke really well. The horse gave me a good effort. He fought for me.”
Pimlico Race Course