March 17, 2022


HOT SPRINGS, AR (Thursday, March 17, 2022) – What about Bob? Following his biggest career victory to date, Bob’s Edge has been installed the 5-2 program favorite for the $200,000 Whitmore Stakes (G3) for older sprinters Saturday at Oaklawn.

Probable post time for the Whitmore, which goes as the seventh of 10 races, is 4:04 p.m. (Central). First post is 1 p.m., with the infield open, weather permitting. The card also features the $500,000 Essex Handicap (G3) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles.

Previously run as the Hot Springs Stakes, the Whitmore honors the 2020 Eclipse Award winner (champion male sprinter) for co-owner/trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs. Whitmore won seven stakes races at Oaklawn, including the Hot Springs a record four consecutive years (2017-2020).

Bob’s Edge, who is trained by Larry Jones, bids for his second career stakes victory after a sharp 2 ¾-length score in the $150,000 King Cotton for older sprinters Jan. 29 in his last start. The King Cotton and Whitmore are Oaklawn’s two major preps for the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 16.

Bob’s Edge earned a career-high 97 Beyer Speed Figure for his King Cotton victory and tuned up for the Whitmore with a 5-furlong bullet workout (:59.40) Monday.

“He’s doing real good and he worked really well the day before yesterday,” Jones said Wednesday morning. “Blew out real nicely. He likes a little time between his races, so this is a good spacing from the King Cotton to now. That will suit him well.”

The projected nine-horse Whitmore field from the rail out: No Shirt No Shoes, Martin Garcia to ride, 121 pounds, 12-1 on the morning line; Bob’s Edge, Luis Quinonez, 124, 5-2; Greeley and Ben, David Cabrera, 119, 9-2; Kneedeepinsnow, Ramon Vazquez, 121, 8-1; Atkoa, Luis Contreras, 121, 10-1; Royal Daaher, Francisco Arrieta, 121, 10-1; Tulane Tryst, Brian Hernandez Jr., 121, 9-2; Heart Rhythm, Geovanni Franco, 121, 15-1; and Hollis, Ricardo Santana Jr., 121, 3-1.

Hollis has started three times at the meeting, sandwiching two 5 ½-furlong allowance victories around a fifth-place finish at 2-1 in the King Cotton. Hollis set a track record (1:02.17) in his 4 ½-length victory Dec. 10 and posted another swift time (1:03.16) in his 4 ¼-length victory Feb. 20.

Trainer John Ortiz said he believes Hollis can been effective at 6 furlongs (110 yards longer than 5 ½ furlongs), particularly because of the gelding’s extreme outside draw Saturday.

“He’s not disappointed me before at 6 furlongs,” said Ortiz, who trains Hollis for William Simon and Brent and Sharilyn Gasaway. “He just has to have a certain trip and I think we drew the perfect post for that perfect trip. Being on the far outside actually, I think, will help me cover the 6 furlongs better than being on the inside, if that makes any sense. There’s no pressure on the horse. We can let Hollis kind of come out of the gate, let him pick and choose his targets and take over when he needs to take over.”

Late-running Tulane Tryst is seeking his third consecutive victory for Cherie DeVaux, who trains the 4-year-old son of super sire Into Mischief for husband and noted bloodstock agent, David Ingordo.

After finishing fifth in the $400,000 Woody Stephens Stakes (G1) for 3-year-old sprinters last June at Belmont Park, Tulane Tryst resurfaced with a fifth-place finish in an Oct. 14 allowance sprint at Keeneland. Tulane Tryst then won an entry-level allowance sprint by 2 ¾ lengths Nov. 20 at Churchill Downs and an allowance sprint by 7 ¼ lengths Feb. 10 at Fair Grounds in his last start. The blowout victory generated a career-topping 91 Beyer Speed Figure.

“Training really well and he’s coming off the two wins,” DeVaux said. “Trained well out of his last race. Looks to be like he’ll get a setup for speed. Kind of the basic stuff – looks great, trained well.”

DeVaux, a former assistant under four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown, is seeking her first career Oaklawn victory after starting three horses at the 2021 meeting.

Win-machine Greeley and Ben has won 12 of his last 13 starts for owner/trainer Karl Broberg, including a Feb. 21 starter-allowance sprint in his last start. It was the gelding’s three consecutive victory and fifth in 10 lifetime starts at Oaklawn.

“He just deserves a chance,” Broberg said. “He always tries.”

Broberg won a four-way shake, or blind draw, to claim Greeley and Ben for $10,000 last March at Oaklawn. The gelding was the co-second-winningest horse in North America (at least one start in the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico) last year, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Greeley and Ben won 10 races for Broberg and had a nine-race winning streak snapped with a runner-up finish in the $150,000 Thanksgiving Classic Stakes Nov. 25 at Fair Grounds.

“The horse that beat him is that Just Might, who is an absolute freak,” Broberg said. “But for a horse that changes leads when he wants to and always has a tendency to break tardy, it’s amazing that he’s been able to put this together. He can do it on the lead, he can do it stalking. Doesn’t matter.”

Heart Rhythm’s Feb. 20 allowance victory marked the first career winner for trainer Trisha Vance Duncan. The Whitmore will mark the stakes debut for Vance Duncan, the daughter of four-time Oaklawn training champion David Vance.