02/18/2008 1:00AM

Denis of Cork stays unbeaten

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Denis of Cork remained undefeated in three career starts Monday when he ran down pacesetter Sacred Journey in the stretch to win the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes before a crowd of 29,018 at Oaklawn Park. Sierra Sunset finished 2 1/4 lengths back in second, with Sacred Journey and Liberty Bull another 3 1/4 lengths back dead-heating for third.

Denis of Cork ($11.60) settled in sixth early, more than 10 lengths off the pace set by Sacred Journey, who was clear through an opening quarter in 22.72 seconds. Sacred Journey continued to lead through fractions of 45.25 for the opening half and 1:10.83 for six furlongs, as Denis of Cork advanced on the turn. He ran down the leader in the final sixteenth, covering the mile over a fast track in 1:37.89.

Robby Albarado rode Denis of Cork for trainer David Carroll.

Denis of Cork began his career with a maiden special weight win at Churchill Downs in November. He won a first-level allowance at Fair Grounds in his second start Jan. 19.

Carroll said he liked the spacing between the allowance race and the Southwest, and chose the first leg of Oaklawn's series for 3-year-olds for Denis of Cork's stakes debut. Denis of Cork earned $150,000 for the win, which increased his earnings to $198,552. The colt is a son of Harlan's Holiday and he races for Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr.

The Southwest is the first of two preps for the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 12.