Robert LaPenta, Ron Moquett and Head of Plains Partners' Whitmore made his 22nd lifetime start a victory in Saturday's Forego Stakes, the first Grade 1 of the 5-year-old Pleasantly Perfect gelding's career. Ricardo Santana guided Whitmore up the rail at the Spa to sneak away in the stretch, crossing the wire 1 1/2 lengths in front at odds of 8-1. Favored at 4-5, City of Light held on for second over Limousine Liberal. The Ron Moquett-trained Whitmore completed seven furlongs in 1:21.46, and has now earned an expenses-paid berth to the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile this fall at Churchill Downs.
“To run that well here, he's as consistent as they come and he tries every time,” said Moquett. “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.”
Fifth behind a four-wide group of frontrunners in the early going, Whitmore made his way up the rail around the far turn to take the lead at the head of the stretch. Heavy favorite City of Light, forced four wide around the bend, was right there, but couldn't match strides with Whitmore late and had to settle for second. Whitmore won by 1 1/2 lengths, with City of Light finishing a neck in front of Limousine Liberal.
“We got a perfect trip. That was the trip I wanted,” said Santana. “We saved all the ground, and we got lucky that a whole 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.”
Bred in Kentucky by John Liviakis, Whitmore earned his way into the Kentucky Derby with on-the-board finishes in the Southwest, Rebel and Arkansas Derby, but finished 19th on the first Saturday in May. Back to sprint company, Whitmore has now won six graded stakes for his connections, including his first Grade 1 in the Forego. Overall, the gelding's record stands at 11-5-2 from 22 starts with earnings of $2 million.
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