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HOT SPRINGS, AR – Last year’s Triple Crown race hopeful Whitmore stamped himself as this year’s top sprinter with an impressive six length victory in Saturday’s $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes, the co-feature on the 9-race card.
Whitmore, who was second or third in all three of Oaklawn’s 2016 Triple Crown race preps, allowed the pace to go early while maintaining his position along the race as Holy Boss led through opening fractions of :21 3/5 and :44 4/5 for the first half mile. The 4-5 favorite had to steady slightly around the turn, but once he saw daylight, it was all over for this competition. Ridden confidently by Ricardo Santana Jr., Whitmore powered home to win the 6 furlong race in 1:08 3/5 over a fast track.
“We had confidence that our rider would make the right decision,” co-owner and trainer Ron Moquett said. “I thought the race could unfold to where it would be better for us today to be a little farther off. It worked out. But he’s got enough tactical speed that he can put us where we need to be.”
Local favorite Ivan Fallunovalot, who had finished second in the 2015 Hot Springs, came from sixth after breaking slow to get second again, finishing 1 1/4 lengths in front of Fish Trappe Road. Holy Boss, Recount, Chief Cicatriz, Storm Advisory, and Candy Ruby completed the order of finish.
Whitmore, a 4-year-old Pleasantly Perfect gelding, improved his record to five wins from 10 starts and has now earned $637,000 for owners Robert LaPenta, Harry Rosenblum, and Southern Springs Stables.
Whitmore is expected to make his next start in the Grade 3, $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 15, Moquett said.
“Of course, we’re going to run it past the partners, but that’s one of our goals.”
Whitmore returned $3.60, $2.60, and $2.40. Ivan Fallunovalot brought back $4.20 and $3.40, while Fish Trappe Road paid $4.40 to show.
Winning jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. aboard Whitmore: “He is a very nice horse and he is doing really well sprinting. He ran his class out. I was in a perfect spot, right where I wanted, and he ran really well.”
Jockey Calvin Borel aboard second-place finisher Ivan Fallunovalot: “He ran well. He showed up and ran a good race. I wish he had broken a little sharper, but other than that, he ran his race. I got him where I wanted in the turn and we just got outrun. No excuse.”
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