Last year's Triple Crown race hopeful Whitmore stamped himself as this year's top sprinter at Oaklawn Park with an impressive six length victory in Saturday's $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes, the co-feature on the 9-race card.
Whitmore, who was second or third in all three of Oaklawn's 2016 Triple Crown race preps, allowed the pace to go early while maintaining his position along the race as Holy Boss led through opening fractions of :21 3/5 and :44 4/5 for the first half mile. The 4-5 favorite had to steady slightly around the turn, but once he saw daylight, it was all over for this competition. Ridden confidently by Ricardo Santana Jr., Whitmore powered home to win the six furlong race in 1:08 3/5 over a fast track.
“We had confidence that our rider would make the right decision,” co-owner and trainer Ron Moquett said. “I thought the race could unfold to where it would be better for us today to be a little farther off. It worked out. But he's got enough tactical speed that he can put us where we need to be.”
Local favorite Ivan Fallunovalot, who had finished second in the 2015 Hot Springs, came from sixth after breaking slow to get second again, finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of Fish Trappe Road. Holy Boss, Recount, Chief Cicatriz, Storm Advisory and Candy Ruby completed the order of finish.
Whitmore, a 4-year-old Pleasantly Perfect gelding, improved his record to five wins from 10 starts and has now earned $637,000 for owners Robert LaPenta, Harry Rosenblum and Southern Springs Stables. He returned $3.60, $2.60 and $2.40.
Whitmore is expected to make his next start in the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 15, Moquett said.
“Of course, we're going to run it past the partners, but that's one of our goals.”
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