Whitmore had been trainer Ron Moquett’s stable star until the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and 2020 champion male sprinter was retired earlier this year because of a leg injury.
Now, another chestnut gelding will try to pick up the slack. Moquett said Tuesday morning that lightly raced Osbourne will make his 3-year-old and stakes debut in the $250,000 Smarty Jones Jan. 1, Oaklawn’s first of four Kentucky Derby points races.
A son of Oaklawn stakes winner Tapiture, Osbourne broke his maiden at seven furlongs Nov. 17 at Churchill Downs in his last start. Osbourne, in his only start, finished second to Howling Time in a maiden special weights sprint Sept. 25 at Churchill Downs. Howling Time returned to win the $200,000 Street Sense Stakes at 1 1/16 miles Oct. 31 at Churchill Downs to remain unbeaten in two lifetime starts.
“He’s a good horse,” Moquett said, referring to Osbourne.
Moquett (Southern Springs Stables) co-owns Osbourne, who is now based at Oaklawn in advance of his scheduled two-turn debut in the one-mile Smarty Jones. The race previously had been run in mid to late January before all of Oaklawn’s Kentucky Derby points races were moved up on the 2021-22 stakes calendar, including the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 2, in conjunction with Oaklawn opening in December for the first time in history. The Arkansas Derby is now five weeks before the Kentucky Derby. It had been three weeks since 1996.
“At the end of the day, that’s what’s great when Southern Springs owns them,” Moquett said. “We just do whatever the horse says. He came out of the race very good. We’ll just point that direction and see what happens.”
Moquett owns Osbourne in a partnership that includes the estate of Floyd Sagely. A star football player during the early 1950s at the University of Arkansas, Sagely died three days before Osbourne’s career debut. He was 89.
“Really cool dude, too,” said Moquett, who had trained approximately a year for Sagely. “He went to Ten Mile (Oaklawn’s satellite training center about 25 miles east of Hot Springs) and saw his horses this summer. It was a shocking deal whenever he died because I had just got through seeing him.”
Moquett said he has two other horses for Sagely’s estate – Trident Hit, who finished fourth in the $100,000 Jeffrey A. Hawk Memorial Stakes for 3-year-olds and up last Friday at Remington Park, and Massard, an unraced 2-year-old filly by champion Nyquist. Moquett said Massard is the name of the street Sagely resided on in Fort Smith, Ark.
The Smarty Jones will offer 17 points (10-4-2-1) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. Nominations close Dec. 17.
Moquett won the 2015 Smarty Jones with Far Right, who finished 15th in the Kentucky Derby.
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