Rider Grant Whitacre Gets First Win at Laurel

(from Laurel Park release)
Apprentice rider Grant Whitacre scored his first career victory when he piloted Festy Eskimo to a convincing victory at odds of 13-1 in the sixth race at Laurel Park Thursday.

"There is nothing like this feeling," said Whitacre, the grandson of former jockey Jesse Davidson. "It took a little while but I hung in there. Nothing comes easy but I kept my head up and rode every horse hard."

Despite just seven in the money finishes in his first 50 career mounts, Whitacre looked confident on Festy Eskimo, the second longest shot on the board who paid $28.60. The David Mohan trainee settled off a contested pace in the $16,000 claiming event at six furlongs, angled out on the turn and took command nearing the furlong marker to win by 4 3/4 lengths.

"A couple times I thought I was going to win but got too excited and got caught nearing the finish line," said the 20-year old rider. "This time I kept riding and when I pulled up after the race I looked around and realized there was nobody around me."

Whitacre's older brother Brandon, now a regular rider at Charles Town, won his first career race at Laurel Park on November 19, 2003.

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