SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Reigning Champion Sprinter Whitmore registered his final serious breeze Friday in preparation for the Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt on July 31 at Saratoga Race Course.
The 8-year-old gelding, who won the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint in November at Keeneland, went a half-mile in 48.78 seconds over a fast main track at the Spa, 12 days after travelling the same distance in a swift 47.21 seconds.
Trained by Ron Moquett, Whitmore has amassed more than $4.4 million in lifetime earnings through a record of 41-15-13-4, which includes seven graded stakes victories at four different racetracks. Prior to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, his only other Grade 1 victory took place in the 2018 Forego at Saratoga, where he defeated subsequent Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and Pegasus World Cup winner City of Light.
Whitmore was second in last year’s Vanderbilt, finishing 1 ¼ lengths to Volatile ahead of a distant seventh in the Forego over a sloppy track.
“He went very well this morning,” Moquett said. “I told the rider I wanted 48 or 49 and he did it and did it the right way so I’m very pleased. He’s training well, doing well, and I like the way he’s running. I couldn’t be more pleased with how everything is right now. He likes the surface at Saratoga. It’s a good track and it seems like he’s settled right in.”
Whitmore has finished in the money in all three starts this year, beginning with a close second by a neck to C Z Rocket in the Hot Springs at Oaklawn, a race he won from 2017-20. Following another second beaten two lengths in the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint at the Arkansas oval in April, Whitmore was third by a head in the Grade 1 Churchill Downs on May 1.
Whitmore has won at six different racetracks dating back to November 2015 at Churchill Downs, capturing his debut by 7 ¼ lengths en route to three graded stakes placings at Oaklawn Park while on the Kentucky Derby trail.
While Whitmore is still going strong, most of his previous competitors from 2016 have gone off to the breeding shed. He finished second to 2021 freshman sire Cupid in the Grade 2 Rebel at Oaklawn Park two starts prior to finishing 19th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, which was won by Nyquist – last year’s leading first crop stallion.
“The funny thing is, I have a colt by Cupid, and Whitmore ran against Cupid in the Rebel as a 3-year-old,” Moquett said. “We’re so grateful that he’s with us and we’re always amazed at the outpouring of affection and support for the horse. It’s great to see how many people like and cheer for him.”
Moquett said Whitmore thrives at Oaklawn, where has posted nine wins, but has the ability to take his game on the road.
“He likes Oaklawn because that’s where we’re at when he comes back off his break. He always does well then,” Moquett said. “I know he likes Keeneland and Churchill and Saratoga. I don’t know which one he likes the best, but he likes a fast track.”
Moquett said a repeat win in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint is the main objective with the possibility of using the Grade 2, $250,000 Phoenix on October 8 at Keeneland as a springboard. Whitmore captured the 2017 Phoenix by a nose over Awesome Banner.
Jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. has piloted Whitmore 17 times, including his last three starts, and will have the call for the Vanderbilt. He piloted last year’s winner Volatile.
NYRA Press Office
Photo: Whitmore winning the Forego at the Spa August 25, 2018. (NYRA/Coglianese)