Post-time favorite Whitmore, making his first start since the Breeders' Cup Sprint last November, proved his class by wearing down the early leader late to capture his second straight $125,000 Hot Springs Stakes for owners Southern Springs Stables, Robert LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners LLC.
“You never know exactly how fit you have them because good horses train themselves,” trainer Ron Moquett said. “I knew he would be fit enough to run a race, but I didn't know he would be fit enough for this kind of competition. You don't want to put any more pressure on your horse by running your mouth.”
With leading rider Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons, Whitmore settled into second behind multiple stakes winner Ivan Fullunovalot, who took command for brisk fractions of :21.64 and :44.21 for the first half mile. The winner angled three wide at the quarter pole, rallied and held off the fast closing Wynn Time by a neck in winning the six furlong race in 1:08.57 over a fast track. Ivan Fallunovalot held on for third.
Whitmore, a five-year-old Pleasantly Perfect gelding, improved his record to 9-3-2 in 17 starts and has now earned $1,287,000. He returned $4.80, $3.40 and $2.40 at odds of 7-5.
Moquett said Whitmore would be pointed to a defense of his title in the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 14.
Live racing resumes Sunday with a 1:30 p.m. first post.
Winning trainer Ron Moquett, Whitmore: “You never know exactly how fit you have them because good horses train themselves. I knew he would be fit enough to run a race, but I didn't know he would be fit enough for this kind of competition. Don't put any more pressure on your horse by running your mouth.”
“These are very nice horses, and I knew that they would be going fast. I knew you would have to run fast to win it. I was confident that Ricardo would just do the right thing to give us the best shot to win.”
Winning Jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr., Whitmore – “I was little worried about the layoff that he had. He was training amazing and today he felt really sure. He was ready to fight and we were sitting in a really good position. When we turned for home he was ready to go and he went. He ran really hard today.”
Jockey Ramon Vazquez, second on Wynn Time – “My horse ran a good race. He also had a little trouble between the 3 and 4 horses. He was between the horses, one was coming out and the other was coming in. If I did it over I think I could win.”
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