Edited Press Release
Rebel (G2) and Southwest (G3) runner-up Whitmore moved closer to his scheduled start in the April 16 Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park by working in company just after the Hot Springs, Arkansas, track opened Saturday morning for co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett.
As he normally does, Whitmore breezed inside a stablemate – in this case Grade 3-scoring four-year-old Far Right – with Greta Kuntzweiler aboard. He covered a half-mile in :48.60 over Oaklawn’s fast dirt and galloped out strongly, according to Moquett.
Far Right, a candidate for the $750,000 Oaklawn H. (G2) on the same day as the Arkansas Derby, was credited with a half-mile in :49.40. Both horses broke off near the five-furlong marker and worked to the regular finish line.
“We always have to start with him at the five-eighths to get him rolling,” Moquett said of Whitmore. “He’s the kind, he likes to follow horses. He never starts until somebody else jumps in front.”
Moquett called Whitmore’s final major work for the Arkansas Derby “perfect” and was particularly impressed by his gallop-out times – five furlongs in 1:00.60 and six furlongs in 1:14.80.
“That will be good because the gallop out was ridiculous,” Moquett said. “All I’ll do now is something easier than this.”
After winning an allowance/optional claiming sprint in his three-year-old debut, Whitmore finished second in the final two major local preps leading up to the Arkansas Derby. He was second to Suddenbreakingnews in the Southwest on February 15 and filled that same spot behind Cupid in the Rebel on March 19.
Trainer Jinks Fires sent Smarty Jones S. victor Discreetness out Sunday morning at Oaklawn to clock five-eighths in 1:03.20 in advance the Arkansas Derby. After taking the January 18 Smarty Jones, the bay colt ran seventh in both the Southwest and Rebel.
Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said Suddenbreakingnews, fifth most recently in the Rebel, came out of Friday’s :48.80 half-mile work at Oaklawn in good shape physically in preparation for his scheduled start in the Arkansas Derby.
In other Arkansas Derby news, trainer Brad Cox said he’ll probably work Dazzling Gem next Saturday at Oaklawn, which would mark the Misremembered colt’s first breeze since finishing third in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds on March 26.
Cox said Dazzling Gem is under consideration for five stakes races, including the $1 million Arkansas Derby, $150,000 Lexington S. (G3) on April 16 at Keeneland and May 7 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Cox said Dazzling Gem returned to the track Wednesday at Oaklawn and is fine physically. The trainer added he’ll have a “little bit better idea where we’re going” after next Saturday’s work.
“We’ll probably, say, Sunday, Monday, kind of have an idea if we’ll look at the Arkansas Derby or the Lexington or possibly go straight to the Kentucky Derby,” Cox said.
Dazzling Gem won his first two career starts at Oaklawn, including a February 13 entry-level allowance, before running third in the Louisiana Derby.
Whitmore photo courtesy of Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography