Saturday is Whitmore Day at Oaklawn Park! Stake Race and Barn to be named in the Champion’s honor
In his last race Whitmore finished fifth in the Forego Stakes (G1) at Saratoga August 28, 2021, a race he won in 2018. Sadly, jockey Joel Rosario pulled him up after the race out of an abundance of caution and he was vanned off.
“He walked sound into the stall, he’s standing square and sound right now, and he’s comfortably eating his hay. There was a little something that could be a possible injury that we’re having Dr. (Larry) Bramlage (at Rood & Riddle) look at. It wouldn’t be career-ending, but for us, at his advanced age, what does he owe us?” trainer Ron Moquett told BloodHorse.
Whitmore would turn out to be sound and healthy. In fact, now that he is not in training and needing to keep weight, he has gained weight. One fan commented that he is “built like a tank.”
Champion and fan favorite Whitmore returned to the track at Oaklawn Park this week. Not to start in a race. He’s getting used to just being a horse around other horses. So he’s hanging out with Laura Moquett, wife of his trainer Ron Moquett.
Laura had been Whitmore’s regular rider since he joined the barn as a 2-year-old and became a part of the Moquett family. Now she is showing him how to relax around other horses like the ponies at the track. She says she teaches him little tricks to keep his mind busy. Ya know what a racehorse thinks about when he sees the track. Running!!
So, Laura and “Whitty” as he is lovingly called are getting in some practice because Saturday is Whitmore Day at Oaklawn Park.
The track will honor the champion 9-year-old’s many victories and accomplishments throughout his long career.
Stakes Race And Barn To Be Named In Honor Of The Champion
Oaklawn will celebrate the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner and Eclipse Champion Sprinter on Saturday with Whitmore Day highlighted by the $200,000 Whitmore Stakes. Formerly named the Hot Springs Stakes. Whitmore won the six-furlong race four times during his career for trainer Ron Moquett’s Southern Springs Stable, Robert LaPenta, and Head of Plain Partners LLC. He also won the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) three times for a total of seven Oaklawn stakes wins, a record he shares with Swift Ruler.
In another move by Oaklawn to honor Whitmore, the Count Fleet barn, which was Whitmore’s winter home for six years, will be renamed the Whitmore barn.
“Whitmore was truly Oaklawn’s horse, and we’re excited to honor his accomplishments with Whitmore Day and the Whitmore Stakes,” President Louis Cella said. “It is rare for a horse to compete at the highest level for six straight years and Whitmore did just that, never backing down from a fight. This is why he has such a large following of fans not only in Arkansas but nationwide.”
Whitmore Day will also feature an appearance by the Champion, Whitmore t-shirts, and the first 5,000 fans will receive a commemorative Whitmore baseball card.
The now 8-year-old Whitmore won an Oaklawn allowance race in January 2016 in his 3-year-old debut and went on to place in the track’s top 3-year-old stakes, which earned him a spot in that year’s Kentucky Derby (G1).
He did not race again until December 2016 when he won a six-furlong allowance race at Aqueduct, setting the stage for him to become one of the top sprinters in North America. Whitmore’s other top wins included the 2017 Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3) at Laurel Park, 2017 Phoenix Stakes (G2) at Keeneland, and 2018 Forego Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. He holds a career record of 15-13-5 in 43 starts and earnings of $4,502,350.
“Oaklawn has always been my home track and it was Whitmore’s home track, so it’s a huge honor to have a stakes race named for him here,” trainer Ron Moquett said. “He was a hard-knocking horse that a lot of people could easily root for whether they put a bet on him or not. The amount of support we have received since his retirement has been overwhelming.”
Whitmore was bred in Kentucky by John Liviakis. Moquett purchased the son of Pleasantly Perfect out of the Scat Daddy mare Melody’s Spirit and it’s been a family affair ever since. Son Chance Moquett keeps fans updated on Twitter. Laura was assistant trainer and exercise rider who adjusted to Whitmore’s bold and assertive personality. She was quoted in 2020 as jokingly saying that after riding him for six years, she’s “almost got him rideable.”
By Maribeth Kalinich with an edited Oaklawn Park Press Release
Top Photo of Laura Moquett aboard Whitmore (Jone Loyd)
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