Fan favorite and 2020 sprint champion Whitmore pulled up after the Grade 1 Forego and was vanned off as a precaution after jockey Joel Rosario noted that the 8-year-old gelding felt off during his gallop out. Later Saturday, trainer Ron Moquett released a statement that Whitmore had been retired from racing.
“Joel said, ‘He didn’t feel right pulling up, boss’ after the race. He felt something different,” Moquett told the Paulick Report Sunday.
Out of an abundance of caution, Whitmore was put on the on-track equine ambulance and returned to Moquett’s barn at Saratoga Race Course, where he was examined by a track veterinarian. An x-ray showed “a shadow of something in the left foreleg,” so Whitmore will be sent to Dr. Larry Bramlage at Rood and Riddle for further examination once the gelding has been cleared to ship to Kentucky. After that, he will be turned out at Rebecca Maker’s farm while Moquett and co-owners Robert La Penta and Head of Plains Racing decide what’s next. Whitmore’s long-term prognosis is good, but Moquett believes that given his long list of accomplishments, retirement is the best route for the fan favorite.
“He’s acting fine. We’re just being overly cautious,” Moquett said about his star gelding. “Now is when we retire. He owes us nothing. He has nothing to prove. He’s been to the mountaintop. What does he have left to do?”
Moquett’s candor about Whitmore’s status and his steps are indicative of the trainer’s philosophy about racing in general and racing his horses specifically.
“One of the things we need to do in this sport is be transparent,” he said. “I felt I owed it to people to say this is what we’re dealing with, this is what we’re doing with him.”
That transparency will continue as Moquett pledges to update fans on Whitmore’s next career after the announcement on Saturday.
“We’re just tickled to death that we have a village. I get a lot of comments where a guy will tell me that his wife is not a racing fan, but she loves Whitmore,” the trainer reflected. “When someone respects a horse so much, that’s what it’s all about.”
By multiple Grade 1 winner Pleasantly Perfect, out of the Scat Daddy mare Melody’s Spirit, Whitmore’s resume includes three wins in the Grade 3 Count Fleet at Oaklawn Park, the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga in 2018, and the Grade 2 Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland Race Course in 2017. In a career that has spanned 43 starts with 15 wins, what does Moquett see as the ultimate Whitmore performance?
“His win in last year’s Breeders’Cup Sprint for sure,” he said. “But his last win in the Count Fleet [in 2020] tied the record as the winningest stakes horse at Oaklawn Park. That one stands out as well.”
Moquett hinted in a statement released late Saturday that Whitmore may move on to a second career, which could see him contest the Thoroughbred Makeover, depending on his medical prognosis.
— Ron Moquett (@RonMoquett) August 28, 2021
“I hope that he teaches people that the Kentucky Derby is not the end-all, be-all, that everything he [Whitmore] accomplished came after that. Every animal is different. We focus on the individual’s potential and acclimate what we do to get the most out of our horses.”
“The main thing is that Whitmore tried every time. He was as gutsy as hell.”
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