Under persistent right-handed urging from jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., Whitmore rallied in deep stretch to win Saturday’s Grade 3 Maryland Sprint on the Preakness day undercard at Pimlico, edging A.P. Indian by a half-length, with Awesome Banner a head back in third and Holy Boss fourth. Sent off as the 6-5 favorite, the 4-year-old gelding by Pleasantly Perfect scored his fifth consecutive win sprinting after a 19th-place finish behind Nyquist in the 2016 Kentucky Derby.
Whitmore, owned by Southern Springs Stable, Robert LaPenta and Head of Plains Partners and trained by Ron Moquett, covered six furlongs in 1:09.90 on a good track.
Whitmore showed early speed, engaging in a brief duel between A.P. Indian and Holy Boss, then eased back to fourth during an opening quarter mile run in :22.97. Awesome Banner joined A.P. Indian and Holy Boss, creating a three-way battle on the front end through a half in :45.67. Santana rallied Whitmore to the outside at the top of the stretch and he gradually wore down the front-runners.
The victory was Whitmore’s seventh from 12 starts and he is unbeaten sprinting. He broke his maiden going six furlongs at Churchill Downs in November 2015 and won an allowance race at that distance in his 3-year-old debut at Oaklawn Park in January 2016. He had some success in middle-distance races, finishing second in the G3 Southwest and G2 Rebel and third in the G1 Arkansas Derby, but the Kentucky Derby was the last time time Moquett sent him two turns.
After a freshening following the Derby, Whitmore returned in December, winning an allowance race going 6 1/2 furlongs at Aqueduct. He captured another allowance race in January at Oaklawn Park, then won his first stakes in the Hot Springs at Arkansas track in March. A month later, Whitmore scored his first graded stakes victory, taking the G3 Count Fleet Sprint Championship at Oaklawn.
Whitmore carried 124 pounds under the allowance conditions of the Maryland Sprint, conceding six pounds to his eight rivals.
Out of the Scat Daddy mare, Melody’s Spirit, Whitmore was bred in Kentucky by John Liviakis.
“I’m happy we came over,” said Moquett, who had Whitmore stabled at Churchill Downs, where he breezed a rapid half-mile in :46 2/5 seconds on May 14. “I said that it was going to take a track record to win this, but that was before the rain yesterday. I know he’s a fast horse and he’s running against very fast horses. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Ricardo. I told him that he was on the best horse and ride him with confidence. I know how he finishes. He closes like a freight train.
“Our goal is the Breeders’ Cup Sprint,” Moquett added.
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