Southern Springs Stables, Head of Plains Partners and Robert LaPenta's Whitmore has definitely found his calling, and has romped in all three of his one-turn starts in 2017. The 4-year-old son of Pleasantly Perfect, trained by Ron Moquett, rallied from fifth in Saturday's G3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap to burst away in the stretch, crossing under the wire 3 3/4 lengths in front of his rivals. Under Ricardo Santana, Jr., Whitmore covered six furlongs over Oaklawn's fast main track in 1:08.35 to earn his first graded stakes victory.
“I think he's still learning this new game, but he likes it a lot,” Moquett said. “It's easy on him. Someone asked me earlier, 'How did you teach him to sprint?' I said, 'That's not the training feat. The training feat was getting him to be third in the Arkansas Derby and second in the Rebel.' He's always wanted to do this.”
Chief Cicatriz jumped out of the gates in front of the field, speeding through a first quarter in 21.26 seconds while tracked by Holy Boss. Black Bear and Sharp Art were stalking the early leaders, with Whitmore out wide in the fifth position from his outside post position (8). Approaching the far turn, Holy Boss turned up the pressure on the front-running Chief Cicatriz, and took over the lead at the five-sixteenths pole.
Still quite wide on the far turn, at least four paths off the inner rail, a hard-charging Whitmore jumped into contention at the head of the lane, drawing even with Holy Boss. Holy Boss put up a fight, but at the eighth pole Whitmore was able to put him away easily, galloping home 3 3/4 lengths in front of his rivals. Apprehender just got up to nose out Holy Boss for second, and Chief Cicatriz held on to be fourth.
“That's an unbelievable horse,” Santana said. “(Whitmore) is one of the best horses that I ride right now. He broke good, he was in the position I wanted and he was in the perfect position for him. He didn't have any trouble, it was a clean trip. When he turned for home he (took his class out). He's a really good horse.”
Bred in Kentucky by John Liviakis, Whitmore showed enough early promise to find himself on the Arkansas trail to the Kentucky Derby last spring. He finished second or third in the Southwest, Rebel, and Arkansas Derby, but came in 19th on the big day in May. Returned to the races in December, Whitmore has yet to lose a race, making the Count Fleet his fourth straight victory. Overall, he boasts a record of six wins from 11 starts with earnings of over $850,000.
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