by Jeremy Plonk
March 9, 2020
Each Monday, I’ll select my Most Valuable Pony from the previous week’s racing action around the country. Who won the week? It could be a breakout performer, a known stakes commodity or the horse lifting the most loot. Chime in on Twitter @Xpressbet with your thoughts on who should be each week’s MVP.
March 2-March 8, 2020
Owner: Robert LaPenta, Southern Springs Stables (Ron Moquett), Head of Plains Partners LLC (Sol Kumin)
Trainer: Ron Moquett
Jockey: Joe Talamo
Performance: The 7-year-old Whitmore won the Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn for the fourth consecutive year, rallying for a 2-1/2 length victory behind his patented stretch kick. The Pleasantly Perfect gelding stopped the clock in 1:08.54, the fastest time of the meet and a stakes record in the Hot Springs. The victory was the 13th in the career of Whitmore and pushed his earnings just shy of the $3 million mark. In the process, he avenged his loss to Share the Upside in the King Cotton Stakes earlier in the Oaklawn season.
On Tap: Whitmore is expected back in Oaklawn’s April 11 Grade 3 Count Fleet. He won that race in 2017 and 2018 before finishing second a year ago to eventual Eclipse Award-winning sprinter Mitole. His recent spring campaigns have included follow-up stops on Triple Crown undercards in races like the Churchill Downs Handicap, Maryland Sprint and True North. Of course, the year-end goal is the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland, a race in which he’s finished fourth, second and third the past three years.
Honorable Mentions: Undefeated Authentic went wire-to-wire to win the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes on March 7 at Santa Anita, firmly stamping him as one of the Kentucky Derby favorites. Combatant scored the biggest win of his career when taking the March 7 Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap, giving trainer John Sadler a third straight win in the race (following Accelerate and Gift Box). Starship Jubilee, an MVP earlier this year, kept her winning ways intact with her third stakes tally of 2020 in the Grade 2 Hillsborough at Tampa Bay Downs on March 7. River Boyne ran the best race of his career in the March 7 Grade 1 Kilroe Mile, rallying up the fence to nab favorite Got Stormy and catapult his career earnings over the $1 million mark.