Whitmore exits 'sub-par' True North effort with an excuse

June 11, 2019 02:38pm

Trainer Ron Moquett said Tuesday there's a reason Whitmore, an uncharacteristic last of eight in the recent True North Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park, submitted a "sub-par" result.

The 6-year-old son of Pleasantly Perfect was stepped on by a rival not long after leaving the gate, ripping a shoe off Whitmore's hind leg.

“He’s walking sound and we’ve got another shoe," Moquett reported, "but I’m sure it didn’t feel good when it happened.”


Whitmore has returned to Moquett's Churchill Downs base since running Friday in New York.

While the gelding's season began with a victory in Oaklawn Park's Hot Springs Stakes and continued with a runner-up to emerging star Mitole in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G2), Whitmore has finished off the board in consecutive starts since then.

"It’s a good time to take advantage of that and give him him a freshening and figure out what to do from here," Moquett said. "Luckily he’s healthy. He’s sound. I grazed him this morning, and he nearly pulled my arm off trying to get to the grass. Then he pulled my arm off to go back to the barn. So he’s walking great and being his normal self.”

Whitmore, who contended on the 2016 Derby trail, has since then developed into one of the nation's top sprinters. Last season, he broke through to win Saratoga's Forego, his first Grade 1 victory, and finished second to champion Roy H in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Whenever an older fan favorite appears a step slow, though, trainers hear it: time to retire?

“My deal is, every horse is its own individual," Moquett said. "I’ve had 2-year-olds that needed to retire, and I’ve had 10-year-olds that were more happy running. He gets to write his story. He owes no one anything, and if it is that I feel he’s disinterested, or he’s more happy doing something else, then that’s exactly what he’ll do.

"But I’ve been out-run in several sprint races by good 8- and 9-year-olds, so the age doesn’t have anything to do with whether he retires.”

While Whitmore goes to the sidelines, Moquett plans to be active at the stakes level with others, including with the 5-year-old sprinter Petrov and Proverb, a 3-year-old Flatter colt who ran third to Preakness Stakes contender Laughing Fox in the Oaklawn Invitational. Saturday's Matt Winn (G3) at Churchill Downs is an option for Proverb, as are the June 22 Ohio Derby (G3) and July 15 Indiana Derby (G3).

 

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