Multiple Graded Stakes Winner Whitmore Targeting De Francis Dash For Return

Multiple Grade 3-winning sprinter Whitmore, having overcome a minor foot issue, returned to the work tab over the weekend and is expected to make his next start in the $ 250,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) Sept. 16 at Laurel Park.

Trainer Ron Moquett had planned to run Whitmore in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) July 29 at Saratoga Race Course but he was forced to withdraw the 4-year-old Pleasantly Perfect colt from consideration the day entries were taken.

“He pounded his foot traveling on the plane and he basically dislodged his shoe. It caused him to be sore, but it was just very temporary,” Moquett said. “The timing was unfortunate but I’m just glad he’s OK.”

Whitmore was returned to Moquett’s string at Churchill Downs, where he drilled four furlongs in 49 seconds Aug. 6 under the trainer’s wife and exercise rider, Laura. He is scheduled to work again there this weekend.

“It was exactly what I asked for,” he said. “I’m lucky I’ve got a great person that always works him. She’s got a very good clock in her head and if I say I want 49, she gives me 49. I was very, very happy with it.”

The six-furlong De Francis was moved up this year from its traditional mid-November spot on the Maryland racing calendar, making it an attractive option for horses pointing to the $ 1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 4 at Del Mar.

Past winners of the De Francis, which dates back to 1990, include Hall of Famer Housebuster and fellow sprint champions Cherokee Run, Smoke Glacken, Thor’s Echo and Benny the Bull. Moquett won the 2015 edition when Gentlemen’s Bet was elevated from second to first following the disqualification of Trouble Kid for interference.

“Our major goal is the Breeders’ Cup,” Moquett said. “It leads us toward that goal plus the De Francis is a historic race, and it would be a feather in our cap to win it.”

Put on the Triple Crown trail last spring, when he was second in the Rebel (G2) and third in the Arkansas Derby (G1) before finishing 19th in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Whitmore was cut back to sprint distances upon his return and reeled off five consecutive victories.

Three of those wins came in stakes, including the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 15 at Oaklawn and Maryland Sprint (G3) May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course. Last time out, Whitmore was third as the even-money favorite following an unlucky trip in the True North (G2) June 9 at Belmont Park.

“He likes to win,” Moquett said. “His personality, he’s got the will to win and he’s got the body to follow through with it. He’s a cool horse.”

Racing – Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

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