Oaklawn Barn Notes
Contact: Jennifer Hoyt, email@example.com (501) 623-4411 ex. 497
Friday, January 13, 2017
Whitmore Set to Make 4-Year-Old Debut Sunday
As expected, Whitmore is scheduled to be seen early in the Oaklawn meeting. But it won’t come in Friday’s $125,000 Fifth Season Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race for older horses.
Instead, co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett entered Whitmore in Sunday’s eighth race, a third-level allowance/optional claiming sprint that will mark the Pleasantly Perfect gelding’s 4-year-old debut.
Moquett said it was a spot he had been favoring for weeks with Whitmore, who is unbeaten in three career sprint races.
“That’s the race was I pointing to,” Moquett said. “At the same time, you want to keep your options open – if that other race would have come up super-duper easy or something.”
Whitmore was a leading 3-year-old last season at Oaklawn, finishing second in the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) and $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) and third in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1).
After finishing 19th in the Kentucky Derby, Whitmore received an extended break before resurfacing with a sharp second-level allowance/optional claiming sprint score Dec. 3 at Aqueduct. He was a romping debut winner sprinting and a first-level allowance/optional claiming sprint winner at Oaklawn in his 2016 debut.
Whitmore is 0 for 5 around two turns, so the outcome of Sunday’s race may determine his racing path the next few months.
“I say we just let him decide,” Moquett said. “We’ll look at this race and see if he’s comfortable with upper-echelon sprinters. There are some in there. He’s a gelding, so what we’re trying to do is make as much money with him as we can.”
Whitmore was nominated to the $300,000 Malibu Stakes (G1) Dec. 26 at Santa Anita, but Moquett said he decided to pass the 7-furlong race because of concerns over travel arrangements.
A winner of 3 of 8 lifetime starts, Whitmore has bankrolled $516,400 for Moquett and co-owners Robert LaPenta and Harry Rosenblum.
“I know one thing,” Moquett said. “There’s a lot opportunities in the Midwest for a sprinter. So it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if he could do both, and be better as a sprinter.”
Whitmore is scheduled to break from post 3 Sunday under New York-based Jose Ortiz, a finalist for an Eclipse Award as the country’s outstanding jockey in 2016, and carry top weight of 122 pounds.
Whitmore’s scheduled challengers in the 6-furlong race include multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Apprehender, Black Bear and W.B. Smudge.
Probable post time is 4:42 p.m. (Central).
A field of eight is entered in Monday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds.
The 1-mile race is Oaklawn’s first of four Kentucky Derby preps, a series that continues with the $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 20, $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 18 and $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 15.
The Smarty Jones field from the rail out: Petrov, Jose Ortiz to ride, 115 pounds; Warrior’s Club, Robby Albarado, 119; Cu Rahy, Glenn Corbett, 115; Rowdy the Warrior, Luis Quinonez, 115; Unbridled Eagle, Ramon Vazquez, 115; Uncontested, Channing Hill, 115; Romeo O Romeo, Chris Landeros, 115; and Love That Lute, Alex Birzer, 115.
Probable post time for the Smarty Jones, the eighth of nine races, is 4:38 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 1:05 p.m.
Donnie K. Von Hemel, trainer of Rowdy the Warrior, bids for his second Smarty Jones victory after winning in 2011 in the fog with Caleb’s Posse, who would eventually finish runner-up in voting for champion 3-year-old male.
Rowdy the Warrior is coming off a fourth-place finish in the $300,000 Springboard Mile Dec. 11 at Remington Park.
Caleb’s Posse finished seventh in the Springboard Mile. Its 2012 runner-up Will Take Charge won the Smarty Jones in 2013. Discreetness won the 2015 Springboard Mile and the Smarty Jones in his 3-year-old debut.
“Usually a good sign,” Von Hemel said. “I think he’s a nice horse. He has to step up and move forward through the spring if he’s going to be a stakes-caliber horse. I sure think he’s a nice horse.”
A winner of 1 of 6 career starts, Rowdy the Warrior races for Von Hemel’s longtime client, Robert Zoellner.
Jose Can You See
New York-based Jose Ortiz, a finalist for an Eclipse Award as the country’s outstanding jockey in 2016, is named on 30 horses during the first four days of the Oaklawn meeting, including Petrov for co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs in Monday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds.
Moquett brokered the deal to get Ortiz, 23, to Hot Springs for the first time, in part, because four-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. will miss the first five days of the meeting because of suspensions stemming from the 2016 season.
“There’s going to be people watch for him,” Moquett said. “I had a lady come up to me that works in mutuels say, ‘When Jose gets here, I need to meet him. That’s my favorite jockey ever.’ There’s going to be a lot of activity because this dude’s here.”
Ortiz won 351 races last year to lead to all North American-based riders, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.
Ortiz’s older brother, Irad, rode the Moquett-trained Whitmore to a runner-up finish in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) and a third in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) last year at Oaklawn.
Jose Ortiz is scheduled to ride Whitmore in his 4-year-old debut in Sunday’s eighth race, an allowance/optional claiming sprint.
Trainer Al Cates of Hot Springs said popular late-running Arkansas-bred Mallard’s Bro will make his 7-year-old debut in a Jan. 22 state-bred allowance sprint.
“It’s 6 furlongs, but it seems like a good spot to start back with him,” Cates said Monday morning.
Mallard’s Bro won the $75,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes in 2014 at Oaklawn and the $100,000 race April 8 is again his major local goal, Cates said.
Mallard’s Bro finished third in the 2015 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile event restricted to state-breds, and was runner-up to Weast Hill last year.
Mallard’s Bro, unraced since early September, has bankrolled $233,339 in 37 career starts for Arkansas-based Five Star Racing Stable.
“Just amazing,” Cates said. “He still enjoys going to the track every day.”
Cates and Five Star Racing Stable also campaigned 2011 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes winner The Mallard Man, a half-brother to Mallard’s Bro.
The track was fast for an abbreviated training session Friday (7 a.m.-9 a.m., Central) – the first day of the scheduled 57-day meeting. … Unbeaten Jerrid, who was nominated to Monday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes, moved closer to his 3-year-old debut with a 5-furlong bullet workout (in company) in :59.60 Friday morning for trainer Scott Young. Jerrid, a son of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, broke his maiden sprinting Dec. 2 at Remington Park. … All to Stormy, a 3-year-old half-brother to Arkansas-bred standout Weast Hill, is scheduled to make his career debut in Monday’s second race for trainer Tim Martin.