Sunday, March 12, 2017
Whitmore Pointed toward Count Fleet After Impressive Hot Springs Win
Whitmore exited “crazy good” from his powerful six-length victory in his sprint stakes debut, the $125,000 Hot Springs for older horses Saturday at Oaklawn, co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett said Sunday morning.
Remaining perfect in five career sprint starts, Whitmore ran 6 furlongs over a fast track in 1:08.72 under Ricardo Santana Jr., the third-quickest time in the 73-year history of the Hot Springs. It was also the third-largest margin of victory.
“He did what we wanted him to do against some very good horses,” Moquett said. “We knew he could do the distance. He did it against some classy horses.”
Whitmore will be pointed for the $400,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 15, Moquett said.
Hot Springs runner-up Ivan Fallunovalot will also be pointed for the Count Fleet, trainer Tom Howard said Sunday morning.
Whitmore was coming off a sharp 2 ¾-length allowance/optional claiming score Jan. 15 in his 4-year-old debut. He ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.81, the fastest time ever at Oaklawn for that distance during January.
The Pleasantly Perfect gelding was a 7 ¼-length winner of his career debut sprinting and resurfaced following a 19th-place finish in last year’s Kentucky Derby with a second-level allowance/optional claiming victory Dec. 3 at Aqueduct at 6 ½ furlongs.
Moquett said the Hot Springs was the best race Whitmore has ever run. The gelding had to wait for room approaching the quarter-pole, then uncorked a scintillating turn of foot to open up by four lengths in mid-stretch.
“This was a pretty tough test because these were all proven warriors at that distance,” Moquett said. “One reason I was happy was because he did it the right way.”
Whitmore’s first career stakes victory, and fifth in 10 starts overall, pushed his earnings to $637,000 for Southern Springs Stable (Moquett), Harry Rosenblum and Robert LaPenta. He is 0 for 5 around two turns, but finished second last year in Oaklawn’s $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) and $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) and third in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1).
Moquett decided to target shorter races for Whitmore following the Kentucky Derby.
The Hot Springs was the 194th career Oaklawn victory for Moquett, who saddled Gentlemen’s Bet to win the 2015 Hot Springs. He also became the second trainer at the meet to surpass $1 million in purse earnings ($1,045,849) with Whitmore’s victory. The trainer has 16 victories to rank fourth in the standings.
Whitmore represented the first victory for Santana, Oaklawn’s four-time time defending riding champion, since Feb. 23. The rider suffered a separated shoulder in a March 2 spill and resumed riding Friday. Santana, Ramon Vazquez and Geovanni Franco are tied atop the standings with 31 victories through 36 days of racing.
Ivan Fallunovalot rebounded from a sluggish fourth in the $125,000 King Cotton Stakes Feb. 4 to finish 1 ¼ lengths clear of third-place finisher Fish Trappe Road on Saturday. The gelding didn’t break sharply in the Hot Springs and was angled out five-wide turning for home under Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel.
“When Calvin chose to go the outside, Whitmore got the jump on us and he is a good horse,” Howard said. “He’s a fast horse.”
Ivan Fallunovalot, a $25,000 claim by Howard at the 2014 Oaklawn meeting, increased his career earnings to $832,058 with his runner-up finish. He won the King Cotton in 2015 and 2016 for Howard and owner Lewis Mathews of Bismarck, Ark.
Just a Fantasy
Southern California-based It Tiz Well could return to Oaklawn for the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies, Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said Saturday night.
It Tiz Well, in her two-turn debut, was a one-length winner over Benner Island in Saturday’s $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3), the final major local prep for the Fantasy.
“I think we might try to look at that,” Hollendorfer said. “That might come up a little tougher, but at least she handled the track and she did what we wanted her to do on this trip.”
Ridden for the first time by Corey Nakatani, It Tiz Well set a stakes record (1:42.61) for 1 1/16 miles over a fast track. Imaginary Lady set the previous record (1:43) during the second running in 1989.
A daughter of Arch, It Tiz Well was coming off a 3 ¾-length first-level allowance/optional claiming victory Feb. 3 at Santa Anita. In her 3-year-old debut, she was beaten 7 ½ lengths by heralded stablemate Unique Bella in the $200,000 Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) Jan. 8 at Santa Anita.
“We’ve been looking at this race,” Hollendorfer said, referring to the Honeybee. “We’ve got several good fillies and thought this race fit It Tiz Well the best.”
Owned by Tommy Town Thoroughbreds LLC (Tommy Stull), It Tiz Well increased her career earnings to $226,840 following her third victory in five starts. She also earned 50 points toward starting eligibility for the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 5 at Churchill Downs with her Honeybee victory.
Hollendorfer won the Fantasy and Kentucky Oaks in 2010 with Blind Luck, the country’s champion 3-year-old filly that year. In his absence, It Tiz Well was saddled by one of the trainer’s assistants, Don Chatlos.
Benner Island will be pointed for the 1 1/16-mile Fantasy, trainer Brad Cox said Sunday morning.
Chanel’s Legacy is a “possibility” for the Fantasy following her sixth-place finish in the Honeybee, trainer Lynn Chleboard said Sunday morning. The filly was beaten 10 ½ lengths after winning the $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes Jan. 21 and $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 11.
“She came back fine,” Chleboard said. “She didn’t run like we really thought she could. We’ll just see.”
The track was rated fast for workouts Sunday morning. … Multiple stakes winner Shotgun Kowboy worked a half-mile in :49.60 following the renovation break Sunday morning for owner/trainer/breeder C.R. Trout for an anticipated start in Saturday’s $250,000 Essex Handicap for older horses. Also scheduled to run in the 1 1/16-mile Essex are millionaire Madefromlucky and Mor Spirit. The Essex closed Friday with 36 nominations. … Saturday’s card will also feature the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds and $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares. Early probables for the 1 1/16-mile Rebel: American Anthem, Lookin At Lee, Malagacy, Petrov, Royal Mo, Silver Bullion, Silver Dust, Uncontested and Untrapped. The Rebel closed Friday with 56 nominations. Early probables for the 1 1/16-mile Azeri: She Mabee Wild, Streamline, Terra Promessa and Unbridled Mo. The Azeri closed Friday with 22 nominations. … Rapid Dial, a sharp 2 ¾-length debut winner in Saturday’s ninth race, will be considered for the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters April 13, co-owner/trainer Ingrid Mason said Sunday morning. From the first crop of Dialed In, Rapid Dial ($15.60) ran 6 furlongs over a fast track in a swift 1:09.72 under Julio Felix. … Mason said Marquee Miss, third in the $125,000 Spring Fever Stakes for older female sprinters March 4, will be pointed for the $150,000 Carousel Stakes April 8. Marquee Miss won Oaklawn’s $100,000 Dixie Belle and $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes last year. ... Mason said Checkmate Charlie, 11th against older horses in a state-bred entry-level allowance/optional claiming sprint Friday, is still pointing for the $100,000 Rainbow Stakes March 31. The 6-furlong Rainbow is restricted to 3-year-old colts and geldings bred in Arkansas. … Didiel Osorio, who suffered hairline fractures to his T5 and T7 vertebrae in a March 2 spill, attended the races Saturday, said his agent, Joe Santos. Osorio could be cleared to resume riding in late April. … Patrick Canchari, who has been working as an exercise rider at the meet, is named on one horse Thursday and Friday. Canchari, the brother of Alex Canchari, currently fourth in the Oaklawn jockey standings, hasn’t ridden since Sept. 5 at Canterbury Park. … Churchill Downs maiden graduate Greeley and Ben is scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut in Friday’s eighth race, an entry-level allowance/optional claiming sprint, for trainer Gary Thomas.