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
“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.