With multiple grade 1 wins and now a championship under his girth, Whitmore is chasing history in the April 10 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park where he hopes to become the track’s winningest stakes horse.
The 8-year-old gelded son of Pleasantly Perfect and last year’s Eclipse champion male sprinter is tied as the leading Oaklawn horse by stakes winners with 1965 Arkansas Derby winner Swift Ruler. They each have seven stakes wins at the Hot Springs, Ark., track.
“We want to be the all-time winningest stakes horse in Arkansas, and by the way there is a good group of dang horses we have to beat to do it,” said trainer and co-owner Ron Moquett. “We are here on a track we like, it’s in our backyard, and if he deserves it, he’ll go get it.”
Whitmore certainly has a solid record in the Count Fleet with three wins and a second in the six-furlong handicap since 2017. He’s regularly used the Count Fleet as a springboard to seasons that netted graded stakes wins elsewhere, capturing the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes (G2) in 2017, taking the Forego Stakes (G1) in 2018, and in 2020 landing championship honors after winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).
As noted by Moquett, plenty of competition stands between Whitmore and his place in Oaklawn history.
Foremost among them is multiple grade 2 winner C Z Rocket , who just blocked Whitmore from getting his eighth stakes win March 13 when he beat the champion by a neck in the listed Hot Springs Stakes. C Z Rocket is a 7-year-old gelding by City Zip who is owned by Madaket Stables, Gary Barber, and Tom Kagele and trained by Peter Miller. The field also includes grade 1-winning frontrunner No Parole , who is owned by Maggi Moss and Greg Tramontin and trained by Tom Amoss; and, Strike Power , who comes into the Count Fleet off a 3 1/2-length score in a $100,000 allowance optional claimer that generated the highest Beyer Speed Figure (101) during the Oaklawn meet at races up to a mile.
“It is a tricky race to handicap because there some proven horses with different styles, and it doesn’t seem to favor anyone,” said Moquett. “The grade of this race is well underrated. In the last two years, it has produced two Eclipse champions and two horses that placed in the Breeders’ Cup. It needs to be looked at. For the fans of horses racing, this is going to be a fun one to watch.”
Whitmore will break from post 2 under Ricardo Santana Jr. They’ll be the highweight at 123 pounds. C Z Rocket and Florent Geroux leave from post 6 and will be toting 122 pounds.
Another six-furlong stakes on the April 10 card is the $250,000 Carousel for fillies and mares 4 years old and older.
Heading the Carousel field is 7-5 morning-line favorite and multiple graded stakes winner Frank’s Rockette , a 4-year-old daughter of leading sire Into Mischief . She is owned by Frank Fletcher Racing Operations and trained by Bill Mott. Geroux has the mount.
Frank’s Rockette has won seven and finished second four times out of her 12 lifetime starts. Last year she strung together three consecutive graded stakes wins in the Victory Ride Stakes (G3), Prioress Stakes (G2), and Gallant Bloom Handicap (G2). She comes into the Carousel with a 1 1/4-length win in the American Beauty Stakes on a muddy Oaklawn track Jan. 30.
Hronis Racing has the morning-line second choice at 9-5 with Edgeway , a 4-year-old daughter of Competitive Edge , who is trained by John Sadler. Edgeway has not finished off the board in five starts and comes into the Carousel off a three-length win in a Feb. 7 allowance optional claimer at Santa Anita Park. She has placed twice in black-type stakes, most recently finishing second in the Dogwood Stakes (G3) back in June at Churchill Downs. Edgeway will be ridden by Joel Rosario.
The Carousel field also includes Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings and Stretch Run Ventures homebred Casual , a 4-year-old daughter of Curlin out of multiple grade 1 winner Lady Tak. Casual got her second win at Oaklawn Jan. 29 and followed with a second-place finish in the Feb. 27 Spring Fever Stakes. She will be ridden by Santana.
Oaklawn Park, Saturday, April 10, 2021, Race 11
- Grade III
- 4 yo’s & up
- 6:05 PM (local)
Oaklawn Park, Saturday, April 10, 2021, Race 6
- 4 yo’s & up Fillies and Mares
- 2:55 PM (local)