Whitmore sweeps to Maryland Sprint victory

by | May 20, 2017 | Breaking, Features, Maryland, MD Racing, Racing, Triple Crown Trail


Whitmore (#5) was up late to win the G3 Maryland Sprint. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

From a Maryland Jockey Club release

Now that they know what he likes to do, Whitmore is unbeatable.

Southern Springs Stables, Robert LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners’ Whitmore swept past dueling leaders A.P. Indian and Awesome Banner past the eighth pole to notch a popular half-length victory in the 31st running of the $150,000 Maryland Sprint (G3) Saturday at historic Pimlico Race Course.

It was the second straight graded-stakes triumph for Whitmore ($4.40), who was favored at 6-5 in a competitive field of nine accomplished sprinters, and his fifth consecutive win overall – all since being switched to sprint distances by trainer Ron Moquett.

“I know he’s a fast horse and he’s running against very fast horses,” Moquett said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in [jockey] Ricardo [Santan]. I told him that he was on the best horse and ride him with confidence.”

A.P. Indian, a multiple Grade 1 winner last year and Eclipse Award finalist for champion sprinter, broke running and was joined up front by Holy Boss and 30-1 long shot Awesome Banner, as the trio battled through early fractions of 22.97 seconds for a quarter-mile, 46.95 for the half and 57.54 for five furlongs.

“I thought he ran a good race,” said Arnaud Delacour, trainer of A. P. Indian. “I’m not sure that he wanted to be in front like that.”

Holy Boss couldn’t keep up as A.P. Indian, the 8-5 second choice, on the outside and Awesome Banner to his right began to pull away. Whitmore, who appeared to be getting out around the turn, came flying on the far outside to pass both and complete the six furlongs in a swift 1:09.90 over a main track labeled good.

“He broke good and just sat back comfortably,” said Santana. “The second they cleared, he broke away running. He was getting out when dirt was hitting him in the face a little bit, but I had confidence in him. As soon as I asked him, he started running.”

A.P. Indian checked in second, a head in front of Awesome Banner. It was 5 ¾ lengths back to Holy Boss in fourth.

Whitmore was on the Triple Crown trail last winter and spring at Oaklawn Park and did well enough to earn a trip to the Kentucky Derby (G1) but was never in contention in a 19th-place finish. He didn’t race again for seven months and returned a sprinter, this year winning the Hot Springs Stakes and Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn. Moquett indicated Whitmore’s seasonal goal would be the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.