Whitmore Rides the Rail to Victory in Forego Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

August 27th, 2018

It was a tale of two trips, and how differing circumstances can favor one horse while putting others at a disadvantage.

You really won’t see a more clear-cut example how trips can affect the outcome of a race than the example we witnessed in Saturday’s $600,000 Forego Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga. The seven-furlong sprint was won in determined fashion by the consistent veteran Whitmore, but you can make a strong case that the runner-up City of Light ran just as well or better.

Of course, plenty of credit should be bestowed on Whitmore and jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr., who executed a perfect and patient trip to secure the victory. The seven-furlong “Win and You’re In” prep race for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) unfolded at a quick early tempo as Heartwood, C Z Rocket, and Warrior’s Club all battled for supremacy. Meanwhile City of Light was trapped on the extreme outside, pressing the pace from his tricky position; in contrast, Whitmore was tucked in along the rail, saving ground while rating a little farther off the lead.

Rounding the far turn, Santana took a gamble by keeping Whitmore inside and hoping for an opening to appear. But when the front-running Heartwood drifted out approaching the homestretch (which carried City of Light even farther outside), a gaping hole appeared along the inside, through which Whitmore eagerly shot through to seize the lead. He was in front by a length through six furlongs in 1:08.72 and finished up well to reach the wire in 1:21.46, earning a 104 Beyer speed figure.
City of Light, despite his unfortunate trip, gamely stayed within shouting range of Whitmore through the run down the homestretch and ultimately settled for second place, 1 ½ lengths behind the winner and a nose in front of the late-running Limousine Liberal. For City of Light, it was an encouraging run for his first start in three months, and if not for Whitmore getting a perfect trip up the rail, City of Light might have prevailed.

But Whitmore was likewise entering off a freshening, having last run on June 7th, and the brief respite from racing seemed to do him good as he secured the first Grade 1 win of his career. The Ron Moquett-trained gelding has been sprinting for nearly two years, but it should be noted that he ran well going longer on the Kentucky Derby trail in 2016, so the one-turn mile of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs could be a perfect fit for the son of Pleasantly Perfect.