Tough day for Whitmore as long shot reigns over Vanderbilt


SARATOGA SPRINGS – The cheers of the large crowd at Saratoga Racecourse faded as Ron Moquett moved further and further away from the winner’s circle. He was following his old horse Whitmore as he exited the playground known as Spa’s main track.

The Grade I, $ 350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt had just been raced and Moquett’s horse, the sentimental favorite in the field of nine, had made a brave and valiant effort in the six-stage race. It just wasn’t good enough. Whitmore, the 4-1 third pick, could only score a third place finish.

He was 1 3/4 lengths behind the surprising winner Lexitonian, who lit up the tote after being sent off as the longest shot of the race at 34-1. Those who believed in the Lexitonian, who was last seen finishing last in the Met Mile and beaten by 45 1/4 lengths, were rewarded handsomely.

Lexitonian, who was ridden by Jose Lezcano, paid $ 70 to win, $ 21.20 to place and $ 10.40 to show.

Of course, the boos and screams were on his side. Not for Whitmore, who at age 8 hit the board for the 33rd time in 42 career starts. That wasn’t going to sour Moquett, who followed his horse along the track and then through the paddock on the way back to Stakes’ barn.

“I really wanted to win,” said Moquett. “But I’m happy with the horse and very happy with the way he got home.”

Whitmore had been the welfare story of last year’s Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland when he won the Sprint at the age of 7. The Vanderbilt was his fourth start this year and he landed on the board in all of them. He was no match for the surprising winner.

“I am speechless,” said Jack Sisterson, Lexitonian coach. “To be here on a stage like this and even to participate in a race like this is very humbling.”

This is the second summer in a row that Sisterson has been upset at the Spa. In 2020, he won the Grade I Personal Ensign with Vexatious. This victory did not cause such a staggering upheaval as the Vanderbilt. Vexatious paid $ 21 but displayed a bigger shock because she defeated the well-respected Monomoy Girl.

Lexitonian was making his third career start at Saratoga. The 5-year-old son of Speightstown had no hole in his first two, finishing sixth of seven in the 2018 Sanford and ninth of nine in last year’s Forego, he was due to run in last year’s Vanderbilt but was scratched in the starting gate just before the race.

“This horse is a very good horse,” said jockey Jose Lezcano. “He tries hard all the time.”

Lexitonian broke off the rail and took the lead and was engaged by Strike Power and Special Reserve, who would finish second. After a first quarter mile in 22.04 seconds and a half in 44.45 seconds, it was Lexitonian and Special Reserve who attacked him in the section of Saratoga.

Special Reserve and Joel Rosario took a short lead but Lexitonian came back and won by half a length.

“He’s a class horse,” Moquett said of the winner. “This is what these races look like. If you line them up tomorrow it would probably be different. Kudos to them. We have faced him several times and it was his day.”

The final time for the Vanderbilt was 1: 09.38.

The Bowling Green

A year ago, Cross Border finished second at Bowling Green and went on to claim a victory by disqualification. The 7-year-old has made sure there is no controversy this year. He won the $ 250,000 Class II turf race by 1 1/4 in length.

“He loves it here,” said jockey Luis Saez after Cross Border won his fourth race from Saratoga in five tries. “He ran huge. When he got to the top of the stretch, he really gave me that kick and he fought.”

Cross Border took the lead in the 1 3/8 mile marathon at the top of the stretch and then withstood the load of the Rockemperor trained by Chad Brown. The victory was the ninth in 26 tries for Cross Border, who is coached by Mike Maker.

After 12 days of competition from Saratoga, Maker is the top coach with 12 wins, four more than Todd Pletcher.

Cross Border, who got odds of 6-1, paid $ 14.40, $ 6.10 and $ 4.30. The final time was 2: 16.36 on the indoor turf course, which was called “good”.

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