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Homeracing

Extra ground can help Whitmore in Belmont Sprint Championship

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

July 6th, 2018

Saturday's $350,000 Belmont Sprint Championship (G3) is a "Win & You're In" Breeders' Cup Challenge race for the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1), to be held at Churchill Downs in November.

A field of six will line up for the seven-furlong feature, with morning line favorite #1 Limousine Liberal looking to improve on his third in the Metropolitan H. (G1) and #2 Whitmore looking to bounce back from a photo-finish loss in the True North (G2), both races contested on Belmont Stakes weekend.

Speed in the Belmont Sprint Championship should be provided by #3 Eye Luv Lulu and #5 Lewisfield, with #4 Shaft of Light also a possibility to show early foot cutting back in trip following a narrow loss in the Salvator Mile (G3). That could set the race up for either Limousine Liberal and/or Whitmore, and possibly #6 Favorable Outcome.

Favorable Outcome has been a horse hard to figure out. Winner of the Swale (G2) early in his three-year-old season, he later won an N2X allowance at Aqueduct and capped the year with at third in the Malibu (G1). He's largely disappointed this year though. Sixth as the even-money favorite in the Gulfstream Park Sprint (G3), he was a cold-on-the-board sixth in the Carter H. (G1) two back, but bounced with a second in a May 17 Belmont Park allowance contested in the slop.

Limousine Liberal and Whitmore, on paper, appear to be the most consistent win prospects. Limousine Liberal is reunited here with Jose Ortiz, who was aboard the Churchill-loving six-year-old in both the 2017 and 2018 editions of the Churchill Downs (G2) on Kentucky Derby Day. That race is contested at seven furlongs, a distance over which Limousine Liberal owns a 9-4-2-1 record, and the the Ben Colebrook-trained gelding exits what was arguably the strongest last-out prep.

Whitmore was only fourth to Limousine Liberal in this year's Churchill Downs and is nowhere near as experienced at this trip as he is at six furlongs, but keep in mind he ran effectively early in his sophomore season going longer, placing in the Southwest (G3), Rebel (G2), and Arkansas Derby (G1).

He might not see the kind of pace here that he got in the True North, but Whitmore was coming on strong at the end of that dash and just missed catching Imperial Hint. The extra furlong should help as well.

While only 2-1 on the morning line, WHITMORE gets the edge as our win play.

(Coady Photography)

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