One Liner delivered a zinger (hey now) in the Southwest Stakes on Monday at Oaklawn Park, drawing off to win by 3.5 lengths over Petrov (and 12 lengths over the 3rd place finisher). Stretching out off a six furlong allowance win for trainer Todd Pletcher, One Liner made easy work of a solid field and did so in a strong final time as well, earning a 102 Beyer Speed Figure. Let’s take a look:
Race Replay –
Fractions – 22.93, 46.55, 1:10.98, 1:35.37, 1:41.85 (1 1/16 miles)
Winning Beyer – 102
Winning Margin – 3.5 lengths
Pace & Flow – The pace in this race was legitimate (see below). Uncontested, the even-money favorite and winner of the Smarty Jones, the previous race in the Oaklawn prep series, ran off to set the strong pace but was tracked by Petrov, the runner-up, and winner One Liner. Watching the race live, mid-way around the turn, Uncontested’s rider, Channing Hill, was sitting pretty chilly while the riders of Petrov (Jose Ortiz) and One Liner (John Velazquez) were getting after their mounts. But when they pulled alongside Uncontested at the top of the lane, Uncontested didn’t have anything and dropped back.
Oaklawn was very nice in running five consecutive 8.5 furlong races (with the same 40-foot run-up too) to finish the card, which leads to a very nice analysis of the fractions of those respective races.
As you can see, the Southwest Stakes was run 0.88 seconds slower than the Grade 3 Razorback, which was won easily by the impressive Gun Runner, but the pace in the Southwest was faster to the quarter, half, and six furlong mark. The pace was substantially faster than the allowance race for older horses run one race prior.
It’s possible that you wanted to be closer to the pace but each of the top two horses lost a little ground on both turns as well and the final time was strong (102 Beyer).
On The Winner – We were a little skeptical in our preview of One Liner simply because he was going to have to chase wide against a fast pace and finish well, but he did, so that was certainly an impressive performance. He relaxed off the pace which bodes well going longer too. It was only the third start of his career. I don’t know that there are any major knocks that you could have after this race, and we’ll see what happens as he continues to stretch out. As the Derby lists get made this week, I would be surprised if he’s not in a lot of top fives (we’d have him behind Classic Empire, McCraken, American Anthem, and Gormley but right there with anyone else).
On the Runner-Up – Petrov also ran well as he had to chase Uncontested through the fast fractions and didn’t disgrace himself in the finish, besting the third place finisher Lookin at Lee by 8.25 lengths and running a career best Beyer in the mid-90s. As we noted in the preview, his dam-side is a little sprint-oriented, and I have this nagging feeling that he’ll be better as a miler, but he ran well. Trainer Ron Moquett:
“I’m proud of my horse. I just told him (Ortiz) the track was favoring speed today, so I knew we had to be closer. I told him that he’s an awesome jockey and have confidence in your horse and do what you think it takes to win this race,” Moquett said. “I was very surprised when I saw that he was that close, but I knew from the three-eighths pole home is when we start getting in gear, no matter where we’re at.”
It sounds like they were concerned to leave Uncontested alone on the lead (which makes sense) and maybe their aggression got the best of them. I’m not criticizing the ride at all, but sometimes being the aggressor (and Petrov was the one chasing while One Liner was sitting back) hurts instead of helps, and maybe that happened here.
On the Others – In order of finish (and none of them really did much running)…
Lookin at Lee was well back early and passed a few late but didn’t threaten. He looks like a useful check-collector but he’s going to have to take a big step forward.
Silver Dust was the one off the board horse that was interesting. We’ve had him on our watch list since his very green October debut and he was a part of our play in this race. He settled off the pace but got in traffic around the turn and never really got to the outside in the lane. It was only his third start and first since November, so he has a right to move forward for trainer Randy Morse. We’d definitely take him next time over Lookin at Lee.
Dilettante tracked the pace but never really made a move…Uncontested set the solid pace but had nothing at the top of the lane. He was the race’s big disappointment…Hence was a little wide around the far turn but didn’t kick it in…Warrior’s Club tracked the pace from up close in a good spot but was all done on the turn.
What’s Next (Arkansas) – The road to the Arkansas Derby continues with the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes on March 18th. Expect to see most of these back there, though One Liner might be held for a later prep race if he only runs once more before Kentucky. Bob Baffert has both American Anthem and Mastery and one will likely run here. Jon Sherrifs has both Gormley and Royal Mo and one might run here.
What’s Next (Derby Trail) – Fair Grounds takes center-stage this week with the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes featuring LeComte winner Guest Suite. Our preview will be the next post.