Updated on 02/21/2017 11:36AM

One Liner runs record to 3 for 3 with victory in Southwest Stakes

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Coady Photography/Oaklawn Park
One Liner, running in a stakes and stretching to two turns for the first time, wins the Southwest Stakes under John Velazquez at Oaklawn on Monday.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - One Liner remained undefeated in three career starts Monday, winning his two-turn and stakes debut in the Grade 3, $500,000 Southwest at Oaklawn Park. One Liner rolled home by 3 1/2 lengths over Petrov, and it was another 8 1/4 lengths back in third to Lookin At Lee.

One Liner was given a 102 Beyer for the Southwest, the top Beyer for a 3-year-old this year and tied for the best of this crop. Classic Empire got the same figure for his victory in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Uncontested, who was favored off his win in the last month’s Smarty Jones at Oaklawn, set the pace for much of the race and finished sixth.

The Southwest shared a program with the Grade 3, $500,000 Razorback Handicap, won by Gun Runner.

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One Liner picked up 10 Kentucky Derby eligibility points for the Southwest, the final 17-point race administered by Churchill Downs. Points values increase up to the Kentucky Derby.

One Liner ($8.80) invaded from Florida, where he had won an optional $75,000 claiming race over six furlongs to start his 3-year-old season Jan. 26 at Gulfstream. He broke from post 10 in the 1 1/16-mile Southwest, and settled in fourth, stalking leader Uncontested through fractions of 22.93 seconds for the opening quarter, 46.55 for the half-mile, and 1:10.98 for six furlongs. Petrov took over past the quarter pole, and One Liner swept past him in the stretch and went on to cover the distance on a fast track in 1:41.85.

“He broke real well, and once he got around the first turn he relaxed for me,” said John Velazquez, who was aboard One Liner for trainer Todd Pletcher. “He pricked his ears and wasn’t really paying attention. I wasn’t concerned about getting to the other horses. I just wanted to get his attention. By the time we got to the three-eighths pole, I had to get aggressive with him and let him know it was time to get busy. Then he got aggressive and then he got competitive. From there, I knew he had it won.”

Also earning Kentucky Derby eligibility points were Petrov (4 points), Lookin At Lee (2), and fourth-place finisher Silver Dust (1).

Trainer Wayne Catalano made no excuses for Uncontested, who entered the Southwest as the top 3-year-old at Oaklawn on the strength of his stakes-record performance in the Smarty Jones last month, for which he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 96.

“Everything went like we wanted it to, until the end there,” said Catalano. “He just didn't answer the call. You've got to answer the call.”

Pletcher said plans are to be determined for One Liner. The next prep at Oaklawn is the Grade 2, $900,000 Rebel on March 18.

“At this point I’d say everything is in play,” Pletcher told officials with Oaklawn. “We’ll discuss it with the connections. We still have time for two more races, if that’s the path he continues on.”

One Liner earned $300,000 for the win in the Southwest. He launched his career last July at Saratoga, winning his debut in a maiden special weight over 5 1/2 furlongs. One Liner is a son of Into Mischief. He races for WinStar Farm, China Horse Clu and SF Racing.  

Attendance Monday at Oaklawn was a meet-high 23,500.