Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) champion Whitmore makes his 2021 debut in Saturday’s $200,000 Hot Springs at Oaklawn Park and is the 8-5 morning line favorite.
The Ron Moquette trainee has won the last four editions of the Hot Springs, winning here last year at 4-5. Ricardo Santana Jr. gets the call and the eight-year-old will break from the six post in a field of seven.
The Hot Springs is one of five stakes on an outstanding betting card. The highlight of the day is the $1 million Rebel (G2), which is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race.
For Whitmore to make it five in a row in the Hot Springs he will have to beat several tough foes including C Z Rocket (2-1) who ran second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last fall at Keeneland. The Peter Miller trainee returns off a four-month break with Florent Geroux in the irons.
Breeders’ Cup Sprint Won by Whitmore
Flagstaff (9-2) was fourth in the King Cotton in the slop here at Oaklawn Park in his last outing. He is one of three exiting that race on Feb. 6. The John Sadler trainee was making his first start off a four-month break. He was beaten just a head by C Z Rocket in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2) in his final start of 2020.
The Rebel drew a field of eight with 50-20-10-5 Derby points up for grabs. The Brad Cox trained Caddo River is the 9-5 morning line favorite. The colt trounced the field in the Smarty Jones here on Jan. 22 in his stakes debut by 10 ¼ lengths.
Among his foes are American Pharoah (G1) winner Get Her Number (8-1), San Vicente G2) winner Concert Tour (2-1) and Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) winner Keepmeinmind (4-1).
Let’s head out to Oaklawn Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Oaklawn Park Race 10 The Hot Springs 4:45 CT
2 Flagstaff 9-2
7 C Z Rocket 2-1
6 Whitmore 8-5
1 Boldor 5-1
The Sadler trainee caught a sloppy track last out in the King Cotton where he was reserved at the back of the pack and made a mild late run to finish fourth as the 6-5 favorite. He was beaten 1 ½ lengths for the top spot. The outing was his first since getting beaten a head by C Z Rocket in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2), the winner then running second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). This guy won just one of his six starts last year but came out on the wrong ends of photos twice. He has posted two sharp works since his last outing and figures to be tighter in his second start off a four-month break. He picks up Rosario and should be closer to the pace here.
C Z Rocket
This gelding was beaten 3 ¼ lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Stalking the early pace while four wide, he was brushed by a foe at the quarterpole and was no match for Whitmore late. Two have come out of the Sprint to win next out including the filly Frank’s Rockette who won the American Beauty here on Jan. 30. Two others came out of the Sprint to run second including third place finisher Firenze Fire who was the runner up in the Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream Park. Miller claimed this guy for $40,000 last April and he reeled off five straight wins before his runner up in the Sprint. He has been working steadily at San Luis Rey for his returns for Miller who is 18% winners with runners coming back off a 61–180-day layoff.
This guy pulled off the upset in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at 18-1 and now returns off a four-month break here for the Moquette barn that is 15% winners with runners coming back off a 61–180-day layoff. He did miss almost two weeks of training due to the weather last month but followed it up with two sharp works. He has won this race four years in a row and loves the main track here where he has nine wins and four seconds in 14 trips. The eight-year-old got a perfect trip last out behind a sharp early pace and there really is not nearly as much early zip going in here. He could make it five, but his price is going to be very much on the short side.
WIN: Flagstaff to win at 4-1 or better.
EXACTA: 2 / 1,6,7 and 2,7 / 2,6,7