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HOT SPRINGS, AR (Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017) – South Florida invader One Liner proved two turns were not a problem with an impressive 3 ½ length victory in Monday’s $500,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) before an on track crowd of 23,500 at Oaklawn. In the process, he earned his first 10 points towards eligibility in the Kentucky Derby and remained a perfect three for three in his career.
One Liner, with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the irons, was forwardly placed early and followed in fourth as even money favorite Uncontested set early fractions of the :22 4/5 and :46 2/5 for the half mile. Petrov, who had been tracking in second, took over as the horses turned into the stretch and opened up a lengths advantage over the field before being collared by the winner inside the furlong marker. One Liner drew off to win the 1 1/16-mile race in 1:41 4/5 over a fast track.
Petrov finished 8 ¼ lengths in front of third-place finisher Lookin at Lee, who had bobbled at the start and had to weave his way through traffic from 10th place. Silver Dust, Dilettante, Uncontested, Hence, P C Cowboy, Rowdy the Warrior, Chief Know it All, Warrior’s Club and Cu Rahy completed the order of finish. Cool Arrow scratched.
“I’m very pleased with his race,” trainer Todd Pletcher said via phone from South Florida. “He handled things very professionally. He shipped and settled in well. It looked like he finished strong and may have left something in reserve, which is encouraging.”
One Liner, an Into Mischief colt, has now won all three of his career starts and has earned $373,800 for owners WinStar Farm LLC., China Horse Club and SF Racing LLC. He returned $8.80, $5.40 and $3.40 as the 3-1 second choice in the 12-horse field.
Live racing resumes Thursday at Oaklawn with a 1:30 p.m. first post. The next race in the track’s 3-year-old series leading up to the April 15, $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) is the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 18.
Winning trainer Todd Pletcher (via phone from South Florida), One Liner: “I’m very pleased with his race. He handled things very professionally. He shipped and settled in well. It looked like he finished strong and may have left something in reserve, which is encouraging. He had shown a lot in his training before he even debuted at Saratoga, so we weren’t surprised that he won at first asking. We had to give him some time after that race because of some baby issues, but he came back very good and has been training good, so we were confident in him. At this point I’d say everything is in play (for next race). We’ll discuss it with the connections. We still have time for two more races if that’s the path he continues on.”
Winning jockey John Velazquez, One Liner: “The instructions were actually pretty basic, just come out running. We knew he would come out running with this being his first time around two turns. I just wanted to save something for the end and I didn’t want to rush him. He broke real well and once he got round the first turn he relaxed for me. 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 3/8th 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.”
Trainer Ron Moquett (Petrov, second): “I’m proud of my horse. I just told him (jockey Jose 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. 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.”
Jockey Jose Ortiz (Petrov, second): “Great, way better than last time. He gave me a great run, with a great turn of foot running for home. But, he (the Pletcher horse) must be really nice, because we kicked on by the quarter pole, and from the 1/16th pole we really were running and the other horse (One Liner) got by me and kept going. Very nice horses, both of them.”
Trainer Steve Asmussen (Lookin At Lee, third): “I think that’s where we’re at with him. At a mile and sixteenth, that’s who he is. It’s a good starting spot for the year.”
Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. (Lookin At Lee, third): “Ran pretty good, I am happy with how he ran. He was coming from off a layoff and he needed a race. I am happy that he tried hard and finished 3rd. He was rolling in and was pretty free of speed. He is a big horse so it is hard for him to keep going with the speed.”
Trainer Wayne Catalano (Uncontested, sixth as favorite): “Everything went like we wanted it to, until the end there. He just didn’t answer the call. You’ve got to answer the call.”
Jockey Channing Hill (Uncontested, sixth as favorite): “We got the trip that we wanted. Obviously, he is fast and he settled alright. Honestly, I thought we were going to be toughed to beat from the 3/8ths pole, that’s when I stepped on the gas. He got a little pressed and that was it.”
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