Whitmore jogs on the main track at Oaklawn Park

Whitmore jogs on the main track at Oaklawn Park

Coady Photography

A Whitmore-Mitole Showdown in Count Fleet Sprint

Whitmore has been first or second in his past six starts.

The $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) figures to be a two-horse race, as Whitmore will attempt to win the race a third straight year April 13 at Oaklawn Park in a field that includes talented, lightly raced stakes winner Mitole .

The winner of the 2017 and 2018 editions of the six-furlong Count Fleet, Whitmore will take on a field of just four other older horses Saturday. His main threat will be the Steve Asmussen-trained Mitole , who is actually the 4-5 morning-line favorite.

Robert LaPenta, Southern Springs Stables, and Head of Plains Partners' Whitmore has been first or second in his past six starts, a stretch dating to a close runner-up finish in the June 8 True North Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park. Trainer Ron Moquett is again starting the sprinter's season at Oaklawn.

The gelded 6-year-old son of Pleasantly Perfect earned his first top-level score when he took the Forego Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course in August. He then placed second in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes (G2) in October at Keeneland and closed 2018 with a runner-up finish to Roy H in the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs

In his first start of 2019, Whitmore took the March 8 Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn for the third year in a row. He comes into the Count Fleet off a bullet four-furlong drill April 6, when he completed the distance in :48 flat to be the fastest of 123 that day. Working in company, Whitmore was caught galloping out to five furlongs in 1:00 4/5.

"Nice and smooth," Moquett said of the work.

Luis Saez is scheduled to ride Whitmore, who is even money on the morning line. Ricardo Santana Jr. rode Whitmore in his past nine starts but decided to stick with Mitole. 

Mitole also won his season debut at Oaklawn, taking an optional-claiming allowance race March 2. Prior to that start, the 4-year-old son of Eskendereya had not raced since winning the May 19 Chick Lang Stakes at Pimlico Race Course

In 2018, Mitole scored his maiden win Feb. 3 in his third career start, placed second in the Gazebo Stakes, and then followed with two more victories at Oaklawn—earning a 125 Equibase Speed Figure in the Bachelor Stakes—before taking the Chick Lang. 

Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt's Mitole brings a record of 5-2-1 from eight starts into his graded stakes debut. All of his starts have come at six furlongs.

Entries: Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3)

Oaklawn Park, Saturday, April 13, 2019, Race 4

  • Grade III
  • 6f
  • Dirt
  • $500,000
  • 4 yo's & up
  • 2:18 PM (local)
11Mitole (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRicardo Santana, Jr.121Steven M. Asmussen4/5
22Bourbon Cowboy (KY)Orlando Mojica114Robertino Diodoro15/1
33Storm Advisory (PA)David Cohen114Anthony T. Quartarolo12/1
44Whitmore (KY)Luis Saez123Ron Moquett1/1
55Operation Stevie (IN)Stewart Elliott115Cipriano Contreras20/1