02/23/2017 4:03PM

Road to the Derby: Southwest Stakes analysis

Coady Photography
One Liner (left) earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure for his win in the Southwest Stakes, improving to 3 for 3 in his career.

Grade 3, $500,000 Southwest Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Oaklawn Park, Feb. 20, 2017

 (10 Derby qualifying points for a win, 4 for second, 2 for third, 1 for fourth)

 Winner: One Liner, by Into Mischief

 Trainer: Todd Pletcher

 Jockey: John Velazquez

 Owner: WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club, and SF Racing LLC

 Beyer Speed Figure: 102

ONE LINER ran his perfect record to 3 for 3 in this, his stakes debut and first start around two turns. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure equal to that of Classic Empire in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the fastest figs earned on the Derby trail to date.

 One Liner broke sharply and took up a stalking position into the first turn in fourth, three paths wide. He stayed in that spot down the backstretch and to the far turn, where he began to advance while remaining in the No. 3 path while being asked fairly aggressively by Velazquez. He collared PETROV near the sixteenth pole and pulled away while drifting out a bit. He ran like a horse whose rider needs to keep busy, but it’s not as if the distance was getting to him. The day after the race, Pletcher said One Liner would likely have just one more Derby prep.

 Petrov, who finished second, had good speed leaving the gate and went into the first turn just behind and outside the early leader, UNCONTESTED. He remained in that spot until midway on the far turn, when he was asked to go after Uncontested. He had no resistance from Uncontested, but could not hold off One Liner while finishing well clear of everyone else while drifting in late. This was his second straight good effort in which he had to chase a loose leader, following the Smarty Jones.

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 LOOKIN AT LEE, who was third, stumbled leaving the gate, then – per usual -- lacked speed and was in front of just two horses into the first turn while saving ground. Lookin at Lee raced in the No. 2 path on the final turn, was angled out to the No. 3 path entering the lane, and then went evenly while picking off some tiring rivals in a race in which he had plenty of pace aiding his cause. He hadn’t run in more than three months, and this was his first of three scheduled Derby preps.

 SILVER DUST, who finished fourth, hugged the rail in ninth around the first turn, advanced between rivals down the backstretch, continued between rivals around the far turn, had to wait briefly in traffic, and then split runners through the lane while never threatening the leaders.

DILETTANTE, who was fifth, went into the first turn in the No. 2 path, in fifth, well within striking distance of the leaders. He went into the far turn in the No. 3 path, just outside of Silver Dust, but could make no impact through the lane.

 Uncontested, who was sixth, broke out at the start but was quickly righted and set off for the lead. He set a quick pace while appearing to want to go faster, which jockey Channing Hill wisely tried to discourage. He rolled along on the lead to the far turn, but when challenged by Petrov entering the lane had zero response before steadily fading in a disappointing effort.

 HENCE, who finished seventh, raced mid-pack while between horses around the first turn, made a mild rally while three paths wide on the far turn, but failed to go on with it through the lane.

 P C COWBOY, who was eighth, raced in the clear in front of just one horse into the first turn, dropped back to last down the backstretch, came into the stretch four paths wide,  and passed a few tired rivals.

 ROWDY THE WARRIOR, who was ninth, had to check between rivals leaving the gate and was last into the first turn, saved ground most of the way, and only passed a handful of stragglers in the stretch while never threatening.

 CHIEF KNOW IT ALL, who was 10th, raced three wide while mid-pack around the first turn, never could get over down the backstretch, wound up four paths wide on the far turn, and then steadily retreated.

 WARRIOR’S CLUB, who was 11th, broke beautifully and then tucked into an ideal stalking position just behind the leaders into the first turn, saved ground in that spot to the far turn, but was unable to keep pace at that point and dropped back.

 CU RAHY, who finished last of 12, was asked hard leaving the gate but could not keep up and had to settle into a spot mid-pack while saving ground, began to yield nearing the far turn while inside, dropped back to last in upper stretch, yet still had his rider continue to whip him through much the lane despite being hopelessly beaten.