Saving Whitmore for larger battles, trainer and co-owner Ron Moquett targets one Oaklawn race in which the champion sprinter is winless.
Seven Nation Army represents the Arkansas horseman, who lives in Hot Springs, in today’s $200,000 King Cotton. Flagstaff, trained by John Sadler, is the 8-5 program favorite in the six-horse field going six furlongs. Listed as the eighth of nine races, the King Cotton goes at 4:40 p.m. CT.
Though he lacks a stakes victory, 6-year-old Seven Nation Army has faced good competition. Named for a Grammy Award-winning song by the rock group White Stripes, the horse finished fourth behind Eclipse finalist Volatile in the Aristides at Churchill Downs and second in the David M. Vance Sprint at Remington Park. The First Samurai gelding, co-owned by Moquett’s Southern Springs Stables, won at Oaklawn last year and exits a Nov. 22 allowance victory at Churchill Downs.
“I think he’s an improving horse and he’s got some ability,” said Moquett, who enlists Ramon Vazquez to ride. “I think that he’s going to run well wherever we run him. I’m just trying to place him to where he can get the most out of whatever that is.”
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen sends out Boldor and Grade 3 winner Strike Power, the latter for his first local start. An Oaklawn allowance winner last year, Boldor comes off a Jan. 4 stakes victory at Delta Downs and makes his first start since reported a gelding, according to Equibase stats.
Ricardo Santana Jr. rides Strike Power, 3-1 second choice in the program, from the rail post. David Cabrera is named on Boldor in post five.
Flagstaff, at 7, has a top-three finish in 13 of 15 career starts for earnings of $555,785. He was especially good early last year, winning the Grade 2 San Carlos in California and second to Whitmore in the Count Fleet. A son of champion sprinter Speightstown, Flagstaff gets a feathery 115 pounds for the King Cotton, his first start since late September, with Florent Geroux in the saddle.
Mucho, an opening-day winner Jan. 22 for trainer John Ortiz, returns with Joe Talamo up. Oaklawn newcomer Rocco Bowen is named on Minnesota-bred warrior Mr. Jagermeister, who has earned almost $600,000 for trainer and co-owner Valorie Lund.
Co-high weights at 122 pounds under the race’s allowance condtions are Seven Nation Army (post two) and Mucho (post 4).
• Look for Whitmore March 23 in the $200,000 Hot Springs, which the 8-year-old has won a record four straight years, with a long-range goal of the Grade 3 $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap April 10. Whitmore finished second in the King Cotton last year before taking the Hot Springs, the Count Fleet for a record third time and the Grade 1 $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 7 at Keeneland.
Moquett wheeled Whitmore back into action a month early last season in the King Cotton after the gelding raced into December’s Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct. Share the Inside, an Asmussen trainee who finished second to Whitmore in the 2019 Hot Springs, won the 2020 King Cotton.