After the Racetrack: Whitmore
When last we saw fan favorite Whitmore, he had finished fifth in the Forego Stakes at Saratoga, vanned off the track out of an abundance of caution. Six months later, the gelding is back at a racetrack, but not for the reason you would think: now retired, Whitmore is looking for a new job and trainer Ron Moquett and his wife Laura have plans for 2020’s champion sprinter.
“Right now, his job is public personality,” Moquett said from their current base at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs, Arkansas. “We are laying the groundwork for what’s next as well. Laura has started training him on a shank.” While the trainer aims to make Whitmore a stable pony, Laura had other ideas for the former sprinter, aiming to train him as a dressage horse or even a jumper.
Whatever Whitmore does next, though, will have to be his idea more than his human companions. “He’s very happy, healthy, and learning different things now,” says Moquett, the gelding’s long-time trainer and partner in ownership with Robert LaPenta and Head of Plans Partners. “Whatever he does next, it’s what he decides to do.”
In his immediate future is Whitmore Day on March 19th at Oaklawn. The racetrack will not only give out t-shirts and baseball cards with Whitmore on them, but the day’s card also features the inaugural Whitmore Stakes. The Moquetts and the day’s namesake plan to be there and may even be available for fans to greet the champion sprinter. Moquett has heard from fans across the country who plan to attend the day’s celebrations.
“He does like people visiting him,” Moquett laughs. “He puts on a show, but he does love the attention. We value that connection that fans have with him.”
When the celebrations are over and Whitmore returns to the Moquett barn, he will be facing his first season off the racetrack. Even now, Whitmore seems impatient to return to his routine of preparation for the next season, so giving him time to transition into his new role will be key, especially after the left foreleg injury that prompted his retirement last summer. “We wanted him to have time to heal properly. There’s no rush. We need to get him out of racing mode, which will take time.”
The Moquetts are using Chindi and trainer Steve Hobby as their template for Whitmore’s next steps. After a successful career on the track, Chindi transitioned from racehorse to stable pony, becoming an unofficial ambassador for the Arkansas racetrack. Just like Doug O’Neill’s Lava Man, Chindi is a popular figure whenever he appears with Hobby during training hours at Oaklawn. No doubt that Whitmore could also take up a similar role, keeping fans excited and engaged as he enters the next phase of his life.
Either way, Whitmore remains an integral part of the Moquett family. “Everywhere we go, we all have to go,” Ron reports. “Me, Laura, the horses, the barn cats – and Whitmore.”