The other night I had a revealing dream showing how "wonder" is one of the greatest gifts we are given in life. Consider how it is through wonder, like looking up at the stars, that some have been able to make sense of a seemingly incomprehensible universe. And just looking at the basic wonders we have when we're growing up -- am I faster, smarter, taller? We wonder about what clothes to wear, about the opposite sex, about other nationalities and races, about why we are here and where we are going. A lot of what we are is wonder.
Animals wonder, too. Horses, for example, wonder about their speed. They have an innate desire to run and compete just like people. A whole industry has been built on this truth. And here in Hot Springs we are able to see the very best running horses in the world.
In recent years during the live meets at Oaklawn, I have been fortunate enough to have a job working up by the press box. And in 2016, I and a co-worker witnessed a horse schooling on the infield grass, getting used to the racing environment. This beautiful golden colored horse, with a stand out muscular body, was Whitmore.
Only the best horses school on the grass of the infield. And so it was that Whitmore was schooling for the Southwest Stakes in which he finished second. Then on to the Rebel Stakes in which he finished second again. And then on to the Arkansas Derby in which he finished third.
If a trainer, owner or jockey is lucky enough to get a horse to run in the Triple Crown races or Breeders' Cup races, they feel honored and proud. Whitmore got to run in the 2016 Kentucky Derby but was far back from the winner. In 2017, Whitmore's trainer, Ron Moquett, wondered if Whitmore's ability to compete in sprints would better suit him. Voilà! Whitmore won five of his next seven races. And for four consecutive years, Whitmore qualified and ran in Breeders' Cup Sprints (2017- 2020).
Getting horses in top condition is an art. Trainers have to worry about getting just enough exercise and races in their horses to perform at their peak. Whitmore's running style was to come from behind and have a late charge. And in the 2020 Breeders' Cup, running in a field of 14 horses meant a lot of traffic to overcome. Bettors understood this challenge and made Whitmore 18:1.
Ron Moquett's wonder about having Whitmore in peak condition was answered when Whitmore broke through a crowded field in the stretch and cruised to an easy victory.
Congratulations Whitmore et al.
The wonder of it all.