HOT SPRINGS, AR – Trainer Ron Moquett’s embattled sprinter Whitmore returned to his favorite track in fine style, repeating his winning results from last year’s edition in Saturday’s $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
Off sharply from post 3 as the favorite under Ricardo Santana, Jr., Whitmore applied pressure to early leader Ivan Fallunovalot through splits of :21.64 and :44.21 before angling three-wide at the 1/4-pole and rallying to the lead. Hitting the top of the stretch with a 1/2-length lead, Whitmore dug in and prevailed by a neck over a closing Wynn Time in a final time of 1:08.57 for the 6-furlong main track sprint.
“I was little worried about the layoff that he had,” said Santana, Jr. “He was training amazing, and today, he felt really sure. He was ready to fight and we were sitting in a really good position. When we turned for home, he was ready to go, and he went. He ran really hard today.”
Wynn Time took second over a fading Ivan Fallunovalot by 1 1/4 lengths. Operation Stevie necked out fourth over Wilbo, with Warrior’s Club completing the order of finish.
Whitmore’s win improved his record to 17-9-3-2 with career earnings of $1,287,000. Owned by Southern Springs Stables, Robert V. LaPenta, and Head of Plains Partners, the 5-year-old gelded son of Pleasantly Perfect’s victory was his fourth straight at Oaklawn Park, with his last loss at the track coming on April 16, 2016, in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.
Whitmore returned $4.80 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.40 to show. Wynn Time brought back $6.60 to place and $3.40 to show, while Ivan Fallunovalot paid $2.60 to show.