Whitmore ran the fastest 6 furlongs ever at Oaklawn in January during the 2017 meeting and his comeback victory in Saturday's $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes for older sprinters produced one of Oaklawn's fastest 6-furlong times in March.
Whitmore ran the distance in 1:08.57 – equaling the stakes record for fifths of a second – just off the 1:08.56 Chief of Affairs ran in winning the 2011 Hot Springs, which was contested March 20.
Double Ready (1:08.40) set the stakes record in 1984, when the race was run in late February, and Dear Rick, a little less than three weeks later, ran 1:08.20 in winning an allowance race by 16 ½ lengths.
Times were recorded in fifths of a second during the 1984 meeting, with Dear Rick running 1:08 1/5 in his allowance romp and Double Ready 1:08 2/5 in the Hot Springs.
Charts from Equibase, racing's official data gathering organization, have featured times in hundredths of a second since 1991. In fifths of a second, Whitmore's time Saturday equaled Double Ready and Chief of Affairs.
Whitmore ran 1:08.81 to win his 4-year-old debut, a Jan. 15, 2017, allowance race at Oaklawn before capturing the Hot Springs by six lengths in his next start. The Pleasantly Perfect gelding didn't have the benefit of a prep this year since he was making his first start since finishing eighth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint Nov. 4 at Del Mar.
Ron Moquett, who co-owns and trains Whitmore, said he was about “75 percent” cranked for the Hot Springs, with the major spring objective being a repeat victory in the G3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap April 14.
“But, I know him, and I know that his class will get him the rest of the way,” Moquett said. “My job is to get him there happy and make sure he has enough to battle because that's what he likes to do. From that point on, he'll do the rest.”
Under five-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr., Whitmore finished a neck ahead of Wynn Time and paid $4.80 as the favorite. Moquett said the most surprising part of the race was Whitmore being so close to a rapid pace set by Ivan Fallunovalot and jockey Jon Court, who led through fractions of :21.64 for the opening quarter and :44.21 for a half-mile. Whitmore was only a half-length behind after a quarter-mile and trailed by 1 ½ lengths turning for home.
“Ricardo knew Jon's pretty cagey,” Moquett said. “He's a smart guy.”
The victory, Whitmore's ninth from 17 starts, raised his career earnings to $1,287,000. The 5-year-old gelding races for Moquett's Southern Springs Stables, Robert LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners LLC (Sol Kumin).Whitmore, who received a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 102 for his Hot Springs victory, is unbeaten in five sprint starts at Oaklawn, running under 1:09 for 6 furlongs in his last four races.
Moquett also won the Hot Springs in 2015 with Gentlemen's Bet.
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