Hard-Knocking Whitmore Will Target Hot Springs Stakes For 2020 Debut

by | 12.10.2019 | 4:07pm
Whitmore wins the 2019 Hot Springs Stakes

Whitmore will target a familiar spot for his 7-year-old debut – the $150,000 Hot Springs Stakes for older sprinters March 7 at Oaklawn, co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett said Sunday morning.

Among the country's most accomplished sprinters, Whitmore has won the last three runnings of the 6-furlong Hot Springs, Oaklawn's final major prep for the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 11.

“We're going to keep running in that race until they change the name,” Moquett said.

Whitmore's only victory this year came in the Hot Springs – his 6-year-old debut – but he still had a productive campaign, bankrolling $440,350 to push his career total $2,821,350. Whitmore finished second in the Count Fleet and $250,000 Phoenix Stakes (G2) Oct. 4 at Keeneland and third in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 2 at Santa Anita. The Count Fleet and Breeders' Cup Sprint were captured by Mitole, who will win an Eclipse Award as the country's champion male sprinter.

Whitmore's final start this year was a seventh-place finish in the $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) Saturday at Aqueduct, the gelding's first route race since the 2016 Kentucky Derby.

“He's good, he's happy,” Moquett said. “Wasn't our kind of track. It seems like it was kind of a merry-go round most of the day. Those are some good horses.”

Moquett said Whitmore is scheduled to arrive at Oaklawn in about a week. Whitmore normally receives a vacation in Kentucky following the Breeders' Cup Sprint (he also ran eighth in 2017 and second in 2018) before returning to Oaklawn, but Moquett said the gelding “got off schedule” and will come “straight here” because of a lengthy summer break and running in the Cigar Mile.

Whitmore is a five-time Oaklawn stakes winner, taking the Count Fleet in 2017 and 2018. His biggest career victory to date came in the $600,000 Forego Stakes (G1) in 2018 at Saratoga.

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