Feb. 18, 2013
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Monday, Feb. 18, 2013) – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert reached into his very deep 3-year-old pocket and found yet another serious Derby contender in Tanma Corporation’s Super Ninety Nine, winner of Monday’s $300,000 Southwest Stakes (G3). The Pulpit colt, who was the trainer’s fourth winner in the race, earned 10 points for his victory based on Churchill Downs’ new requirements for making the Kentucky Derby field. Baffert also won the race in 2010 with Conveyance and swept both divisions last year with Castaway and Secret Circle.
Bet down to even money, Super Ninety Nine did not disappoint under a confident ride by jockey Rafael Bejarano. He went straight to the lead and never looked back setting reasonable fractions of 23 1/5 and 47 2/5 for the first half mile. Turning for home he began to separate himself from his nine other rivals and drew off to win by 11 ¼ lengths in front of a crowd of 25,854. He completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44 4/5 over a track rated sloppy from the heavy rain that hit shortly before post time.
“Rafael (Bejarano) called me before the race and I just told him to let him get away from there and do his thing,” said Baffert, via phone while on vacation in Mexico. “Turning for home, I could see he had plenty of horse. It’s exciting. This is the time of year when these 3-year-olds start getting exciting.”
Fear the Kitten, who was off to a slow start, came wide into the stretch and rallied to get second, while proving no match for the winner. Heaven’s Runway, the longest shot on the board at 59-1, also put in a late rally to get third. Channel Isle, Always in a Tiz, Smarty Jones winner Will Take Charge, Big Lute, Brown Almighty, Texas Bling and Officer Alex completed the order of finish.
The Southwest was the third victory in five starts for Super Ninety Nine and he has now earned $266,480. He returned $4.00, $3.80 and $3.00. The exacta returned $66.80 and the trifecta paid $781.60.
The next step in Oaklawn’s series leading to the April 13, $1 million Arkansas Derby is the $600,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) Saturday, March 16. Baffert wouldn’t commit the winner to that race, but did feel confident about a return trip with one of his 3-year-olds.
“We’ll get him back home and see how he does,” said Baffert. “We know he likes the track now. I don’t like to plan ahead and with these young horses, you just never know. We’ll definitely have something for the Rebel (March 16).”
One race before the Southwest, one lucky handicapper, playing through the Xpressbet ADW, hit the Classix Pick 6 wager and took home $548,553.
Live racing resumes Thursday at Oaklawn with a 1:30 p.m. first post. Thursday will be the next chance for jockey Calvin Borel and trainer Steve Hobby to continue their quests for their 5,000 win and 1,000 win milestones, respectively. Borel, who needs just one win has a single mount in the eight race, and Hobby, who needs two wins has three horses entered on the card, an entry in race two and a single horse in race eight.