05/20/2017 4:38PM

Whitmore extends winning streak in Maryland Sprint

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Barbara D. Livingston
Whitmore and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. take the Maryland Sprint by half a length.

BALTIMORE – Whitmore won his fifth consecutive race in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint at Pimlico on Saturday, using a strong finishing kick to catch the front-running A. P. Indian in deep stretch and prevail by a half-length.

A. P. Indian, the 8-5 second betting choice in the nine-horse field, ran lights-out in the six-furlong Maryland Sprint, but 6-5 favorite Whitmore proved just a little bit better. The surprise in the race was 30-1 Awesome Banner, who chased A. P. Indian the length of the stretch and finished third, beaten only a half-length by Whitmore and a head by A. P. Indian.

Whitmore, who is based in Kentucky with trainer Ron Moquett, paid $4.40 and was timed in a rapid 1:09.90 over a track that had started the day as muddy but had been upgraded to “good” for the Chick Lang, the race that directly preceded the Maryland Sprint. The track record at Pimlico is held by Northern Wolf, who covered the distance in 1:09 in August 1990.

A. P. Indian went to the lead from post 4 and was pressed early by Whitmore from post 5 and Holy Boss from post 6. Whitmore and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. dropped off the pace nearing the half-mile pole and raced a bit wide on the turn.

"I have a lot of confidence in this horse," Santana said. "When he wanted to sit back off the pace, I let him, and then he got out a little bit on the turn because he was getting hit with dirt in the face. I knew he'd come running for me late."

A. P. Indian, trained by Arnaud Delacour, set fractions of 22.97 seconds and 45.67. He disposed of Holy Boss entering the stretch and held a one-length advantage entering the final furlong. While he was able to hold off Awesome Banner, he could not contain Whitmore's late run.

"I'm not sure he wanted to be in front like that," Delacour said. "Obviously, the winner is a nice horse, and he came with a huge run at the end."

Moquett called an audible earlier in the week. He had been pointing Whitmore to the Grade 2 True North at Belmont Park on June 9, but the horse seemed ready to run, and he decided to send him to Pimlico instead.

Whitmore carried 124 pounds in the Maryland Sprint, six more than A. P. Indian.

"The change in plans worked out well," Moquett said. "I guess we can't use mud or weight as an excuse anymore."

Although Moquett said he had not decided on a next race for Whitmore, he said the $250,000 True North, a six-furlong race, was still a possibility, but that he also would look at the Grade 3, $350,000 Belmont Sprint Championship, a seven-furlong race on July 8.

Whitmore, a 4-year-old gelded son of Pleasantly Perfect, is now 7 for 12 in his career with earnings of $967,000.