Racing Spotlight: Whitmore, Gerardo Correales, Phil D'Amato
Racing Spotlight is a weekly series that highlights a horse, jockey, and trainer, with insightful information to help our players always be informed.
This week, we look at Whitmore, the 2020 champion sprinter who will make his 8-year-old debut Saturday; jockey Gerardo Corrales, who is making a name for himself at Turfway Park; and trainer Phil D’Amato, who has finished in the top three at a 58% rate at Santa Anita.
Horse spotlight: Whitmore
Whitmore will make his 8-year-old debut Saturday in the Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn Park. His 3 1/4 length win in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), where he paid $38.80 to win, was his most recent start.
In the Hot Springs Stakes — a race the gelding has won a record four consecutive years — he is the 8-5 morning-line favorite. Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., who has earned seven riding titles at Oaklawn, will be in the irons.
The Breeders’ Cup win was trainer Ron Moquett’s first in the championship series and Whitmore’s fourth attempt in the Sprint. He finished third in 2019, second in 2018, and was unplaced in 2017. It was Whitmore’s seventh graded stakes victory, 15th win overall, and he pushed his career earnings to $4,247,850.
Whitmore’s major spring objective, Moquett said, is the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3) April 10, a race Whitmore has won three times.
"He's the man. Around our barn, Whitmore's in charge," Moquett said. "He's fun to have around, and he makes all the decisions for the rest us. We're happy."
Moquett purchased the chestnut colt from breeder John Liviakis. The horse’s natural athletic ability reminded him of a friend from high school, Wilbur Whitmore, so Moquett talked to him for the first time in 10-12 years, and asked if he could name the horse after him.
"We're grateful that he's around and still wanting to do the things necessary to be a racehorse," Moquett said. "We're happy to get this year started."
Jockey spotlight: Gerardo Corrales
Corrales’ career has gained momentum since he started riding in the U.S. in 2015, but recently, he has taken it to another level.
He currently leads the Turfway Park jockey standings, with 29 wins from 116 starts and a 47% in-the-money rate. He rides first call for trainer Wesley Ward, who has won four training titles at Turfway and has called Corrales a “rising star.” Corrales has also picked up many of trainer Mike Maker’s Turfway mounts.
Corrales was leading rider at the track’s 2020 holiday meet, which ran Dec. 2-31. He finished the 13-day meet with 15 wins, four more than perennial Turfway champ and runner-up Albin Jimenez.
Corrales earned the first riding title of his career in 2019 at Thistledown and picked up another at Mahoning Valley. He made the switch from Ohio to the Kentucky circuit in 2020.
In 2020, he had 609 mounts, with 134 wins, 86 seconds, and 72 thirds. He competed in his first Breeders’ Cup, when he rode Blame the Booze in the Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) and Next in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).
Corrales is from Panama, and his father is a trainer there. He graduated from the country’s Laffit Pincay Jockey Training Academy.
Trainer spotlight: Phil D'Amato
Phil D'Amato is among a cluster of talented trainers at the top of the Santa Anita standings.
D’Amato, who turns 45 on March 11, has sent out 78 starters this meet, with 18 wins, 16 seconds, and 11 thirds.
He has three graded stakes wins in 2021. The first came in the Sweet Life Stakes (G3) with Going Global, who is undefeated since she arrived in America from Ireland.
The other two graded stakes came with 5-year-old Charmaine’s Mia in her first two starts since transferring to D’Amato in October.
GOING GLOBAL (IRE) bags G3 Sweet Life Stakes at Santa Anita for @PhilDamato11 & Flavien Prat. 3yo filly by @HoStud Mehmas (IRE). Bred Nicky Hartery. Bought @Goffs1866 by @PioneerRacing_. Trained 🇮🇪 @MHalfordRacing. Bought 🇺🇸 @donohoeblsk & @Stakeshorses. 👏pic.twitter.com/GITxGcAnCA— ITM (@IREthoroughbred) February 15, 2021
D’Amato grew up in San Pedro, California. His parents owned Thoroughbreds, and he went to Hollywood Park with his grandfather, who would place $2 bets for him. He holds a degree in political science from the University of Southern California and a second degree in animal science from the University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Program.
D’Amato served as an assistant to California mainstay Mike Mitchell for 10 years and took over the barn when Mitchell retired in 2014.
He has a record of 595 wins from 3,261 starts and has finished in the money at a 46% rate. D’Amato won the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) with Obviously.