The impressive winner of the 2017 Southwest Stakes, One Liner was purchased for $150,000 at Keeneland’s January 2015 Sale by J.S.B. Stable. The bay 3-year-old is now jointly owned by WinStar Farm, the China Horse Club and SF Racing. He is trained by 2010 Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher and ridden by 2016 Jockey of the Year, John Velazquez, who won the Kentucky Derby on Animal Kingdom in 2011.
One Liner’s winning time in the Southwest Stakes was 1:41.85 — the fastest clocking since the race was lengthened from one mile to 1 1/16 miles starting in 2013. It bested last year’s Southwest Stakes winner Suddenbreakingnews’ time of 1:45.14 by over three seconds. Suddenbreakingnews went on to finish fifth in the Kentucky Derby.
One Liner’s time also ranks as the second fastest 8 ½-furlong time of this 2017 Kentucky Derby class, behind Mastery’s 1:41.56 in the 2016 Los Alamitos Futurity. One Liner received a 102 Beyer Speed Figure for his Southwest Stakes performance. I feel that this figure was lower than it should have been. However, it is tied with Classic Empire for the top BSF among this year’s crop of sophomores.
Kentucky Derby winners need to have the stamina to race 10 furlongs and there are legitimate concerns here due to One Liner’s pedigree that I address below. However, a Kentucky Derby winner also needs to have great closing speed. One Liner’s closing speed in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park was very impressive on a track that is not considered to be one of the fastest, speed-favoring tracks on the Derby trail. By my calculations, I estimate that One Liner ran the final 2 ½ furlongs at an average speed of 37 MPH. The final 2 ½ furlongs was run in 30.87 seconds (36.4 mph) and One Liner was 3 lengths behind race leader Uncontested at the 6-furlong (3/4-mile) mark.
I have been tracking final 2 ½ furlongs times and One Liner’s time is easily the best in the class thus far.
One Liner’s sire Into Mischief had moderate success, never finishing worse than second in six career starts. His biggest win came as a 2-year-old in the Grade I Cashcall Futurity at Hollywood Park. He never raced further than 8 ½ furlongs and was retired at the end of his 3-year-old campaign. One Liner’s dam, Cayala, by Cherokee Run, was a sprinter and never enjoyed much success in 12 starts and totaled $27,143 in career earnings.
With Into Mischief’s brief career, it is better to evaluate how his progeny have fared. As far as Kentucky Derby runners, none of his offspring have performed well in the Run for the Roses. Goldencents finished 17th, Vyjack 18th and Vicar’s In Trouble 19th and last. However, Goldencents had a good career and shined in sprints from six to eight furlongs. He earned over $3 million on the racetrack and won the 2013 Santa Anita Derby and two Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile championships in 2013 and 2014.
Into Mischief’s sire, who is One Liner’s grandsire, was Harlan’s Holiday. Harlan’s Holiday won the 2002 Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes; he finished seventh in the 2002 Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness Stakes. As a 4-year-old, he won the Grade I Donn Handicap and totaled over $3.6 million in career winnings.
Overall, despite lacking a stellar pedigree, One Liner remains an exciting Derby trail prospect and one that I feel will win a big race somewhere along the way. His closing speed suggests that he will be tough to beat between eight and nine furlongs. Whether he can effectively tackle the Classic distance of 10 furlongs or greater remains to be seen. At a minimum, I am expecting greater glory for him than his half-brother Goldencents, provided he stays healthy.