SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Finally receiving the trip that he failed to get last out in the Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Championship Stakes, Whitmore cut the far turn sharply and blasted off in the stretch to put a whupping on his foes in Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Forego Stakes at Saratoga.
The Forego is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Whitmore receiving an automatic berth in the Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 3.
Breaking from post 3 under Ricardo Santana, Jr., Whitmore saved ground along the rail in mid-pack while Heartwood led a four-wide wall through opening fractions of :22.48 and :44.84. Still hugging the inside through the far turn, Whitmore sliced through an opening at the exit and was all alone as the field straightened for home. Though the heavy 4/5 favorite City of Light gave chase along the outside, he was no match for the Ron Moquett trainee, who crossed with a clear advantage in a final time of 1:21.46 for the 7-furlong sprint.
“We got a perfect trip,” said Santana, Jr. “That was the trip I wanted. We saved all the ground, and we got lucky that a hole opened on the turn for home. That’s when I let him run, and he was feeling good today. Last time, we got in a little trouble, and today, we got a clean trip. Everything was perfect and we’ll take the victory.”
Limousine Liberal came running late and nearly caught the bettors’ choice at the wire, missing by less than a 1/2-length. C Z Rocket was unable to maintain his front-running effort in the stretch and faded to fourth, with No Dozing edging Heartwood by a nose for fifth. Awesome Slew never fired after running in the rear and outfinished only Warrior’s Club to complete the order of finish.
Whitmore’s win was his first in a Grade 1 event and his fifth career graded score, bringing his record up to 22-11-5-2. The 5-year-old gelded son of Pleasantly Perfect, eighth in last year’s TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint last fall, increased his lifetime bankroll to $1,991,000 for co-owners Moquett, Head of Plains Partners, and Robert V. LaPenta.
“To run that well here, he’s as consistent as they come and he tries every time,” Moquett said. “He’s made a career out of outrunning his trainer and I just hope he keeps doing it. He’s a cool dude. He’s fun to be around. He’s a challenge. He brings that same tenacity on the track.”
Whitmore returned $19.60 to win, $5.70 to place, and $3.70 to show. City of Light brought back $2.80 to place and $2.40 to show, while Limousine Liberal paid $3 to show.