JockeyIrad Ortiz Jr.
OwnerHead of Plains Partners, LLC, Southern Springs Stables & Robert V. La Penta
Trainer Ron Moquett's Whitmore finally broke through in his fourth attempt to win Saturday's $2 million Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) at Keeneland.
Though chilly on the tote at 18/1 as he broke from post 7 under Irad Ortiz Jr., Whitmore broke well and settled into his usual position well off the pace in the full field of 14.
Jasper Prince was ridden hard for the lead and outkicked Echo Town for sole command, then posted opening fractions of :21.64 and :44.66 while Echo Town, Empire of Gold, and the 6/5 favorite Yaupon chased closely.
Empire of Gold advanced in the far turn and took over the lead as Jasper Prince dropped anchor, but Whitmore - still stuck on the rail and looking for room at the top of the stretch - finally found space and exploded.
Taking the lead just inside the 1/8 pole, Whitmore drew off convincingly and won going away by 3 1/4 lengths while completing the 6-furlong fast dirt sprint in 1:08.61.
"He had a great trip," Ortiz Jr. said. "We wanted to break and have him relax and that’s what we did. He relaxed so good. I was able to cut the corner on the turn, and when I tipped him out, he just exploded. He’s a nice horse. He’s been running for so many years. He’s a warrior."
C Z Rocket outhustled Firenze Fire for second by a neck, while a fading Empire of Gold held onto fourth by a head and a neck over Manny Wah and Diamond Oops, respectively.
Completing the order of finish came Hog Creek Hustle, Yaupon, Lasting Legacy, Bon Raison, the field's lone female Frank's Rockette, Collusion Illusion, Echo Town, and Jasper Prince.
Vekoma, the 3/1 morning line favorite, was announced as scratched earlier in the week.
Whitmore's win avenged an eighth-place finish in 2017, a runner-up defeat in 2018, and a third-place effort in last year's running of this race. The 7-year-old Pleasantly Perfect gelding improved his record to 38-15-11-3 with $4,247,850 earned for co-owners Moquett, Robert LaPenta, and Head of Plains Partners.
"I said in the prerace interview that whenever there are this many track records, it’s almost impossible to think a closer is going to do well," Moquett said. "For him to run against the bias the way he did and the patience of the rider, the willingness to listen, it all worked out. I’m so proud of the horse, proud for the connections. I’m proud for everyone out there that’s thinking when you run last in the (2016) Kentucky Derby, kick them out, do right by the horse come back, and you have a shot to reach other dreams. You don’t discard them. You just do right by the horse and it keeps working out."
Whitmore returned $38.80 to win, $13.80 to place, and $7.60 to show. C Z Rocket brought back $7.60 to place and $5 to show, while Firenze Fire paid $6.40 to show.