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Blog - RACING

Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

Making the Grade, which will run right up until the Belmont Stakes (G1), will focus on the winners of the big races, usually from the previous weekend, who could impact the 2013 Triple Crown. We’ll be taking a close look at impressive winners and evaluating their chances to win the 2013 Kentucky Derby (G1) based on factors such as ability, running style, connections (owner, trainer, jockey) and pedigree.

This week we take a look at Super Ninety Nine, who won the Southwest Stakes (G3) by 11 ¼ lengths on Feb. 18 for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

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Super Ninety Nine

Chestnut Colt

Sire (Father): Pulpit

Dam (Mother): Exogenetic, by Unbridled’s Song

Breeder:  Northwest Farms (Ky.)

Owner: Tanma Corp.

Trainer: Bob Baffert

After winning one of three starts and finishing second in a graded stakes race as a 2-year-old, Super Ninety Nine improved dramatically early in his sophomore season. He won his 3-year-old debut easily in late January at Santa Anita Park and returned less than three weeks later with a runaway win in the Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park that elevated the Pulpit colt to among the most exciting Kentucky Derby hopefuls for 2013.

Ability: Super Ninety Nine was a $260,000 purchase at the 2012 OBS June sale of 2-year-olds in training and horses of racing age by Susan Chu, whose family races the chestnut colt as Tanma Corp. He was the third-highest-priced horse at the sale after tying for the fastest time for an eighth of a mile at the presale under-tack show, which allows prospective buyers to see the horses in action at short distances.

Super Ninety Nine subsequently flashed that speed in his career debut for Baffert, winning by 1 ¼ lengths in October at Santa Anita Park. Tested in stakes company in his second race, Super Ninety Nine more than held his own by finishing second by a half-length in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (G3) at Betfair Hollywood Park. His first two starts came at seven-eighths of a mile, or seven furlongs, and he cut back in distance to three-quarters of a mile for his final race at two and finished a non-threatening fourth.

This year, Super Ninety Nine has excelled at longer distances, winning at a mile at Santa Anita on Jan. 31 after dueling for the early lead before a dominant front-running victory in the Southwest. In the Southwest, Super Ninety Nine opened a clear early advantage on a sloppy track and steadily increased that lead for an 11 ¼ romp. 

Running style: The longer distances seem to suit Super Ninety Nine as he can utilize his best asset – speed – to put himself in good position either on or close to the front and wear down the opposition.

In his two losses, Super Ninety Nine was unable to keep up with the early tempo because there were faster horses in the race. And in sprint races, there almost always is plenty of early speed.

But, in fairness to Super Ninety Nine, he did show when he closed willingly for second in the Hollywood Prevue that he doesn’t need to be on the lead to run a strong race.

As the competition gets tougher closer to the Triple Crown races, Super Ninety Nine will be tested early in races by other fast, quality 3-year-olds and it is at that point when the contenders often separate themselves from the pretenders.

(Click here to view the 2013 Derby Leaderboard)

ConnectionsSuper Ninety Nine is one of a strong group of Kentucky Derby hopefuls for Bob Baffert, a 2009 Racing Hall of Fame inductee. Baffert also trains Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2) winner Flashback and runner-up Den’s Legacy, Grade 1 winner Power Broker, San Vicente Stakes (G2) winner Shakin It Up, Risen Star Stakes (G2) runner-up Code West and highly touted maiden winner Tiz the Truth.

Baffert trained the runner-up in each of the Triple Crown races in 2012, but throughout his career he’s been nobody’s bridesmaid. Baffert won the Kentucky Derby three times (Silver Charm [1997], Real Quiet [1998], War Emblem [2002]), the Preakness Stakes five times (Silver Charm [1997], Real Quiet [1998], Point Given [2001], War Emblem [2002], Lookin At Lucky [2010]) and the Belmont Stakes once (Point Given [2001]). 

Making the Grade: Orb

Making the Grade: Verrazano

Making the Grade: Flashback

Making the Grade: Revolutionary

Making the Grade: Itsmyluckyday

Making the Grade: Oxbow

Making the Grade: Dewey Square

Making the Grade: Vyjack

Making the Grade: Goldencents

Making the Grade: Overanalyze

Making the Grade: Violence

Making the Grade: Uncaptured

Making the Grade: Shanghai Bobby

Susan Chu and her family race as Tanma Corp. The horse-loving family has a background in show horses and was bitten by the racing bug after attending the Kentucky Derby in 2010 and 2012. Originally from Taiwan, the family lives in Massachusetts and is involved in several businesses related to GPS navigation and security systems.

Rafael Bejarano has been one of the top riders in the U.S. since he won his first race in this country in July 2002 but he has not yet visited the winner’s circle after a Triple Crown race. His best finish in a U.S. classic was a second aboard Andromeda’s Hero to runaway winner Afleet Alex in 2005.

Pedigree: Super Ninety Nine is by 1997 Blue Grass Stakes (G2) winner Pulpit, one of the most successful sires by 1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy. Pulpit sired 2010 Kentucky Derby runner-up Ice Box and 2007 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Corinthian. Pulpit also is a very successful sire of turf horses, but his most impressive accomplishment at stud has been Tapit, the 2004 Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) winner who has gone on to be one of the top sires in the U.S.

Super Ninety Nine is a half-brother (different sire [father], same dam [mother]) to Elusive Horizon, a multiple stakes winner in Washington state, whose two best wins came at 1 1/8 miles on the main track. His dam, Exogenetic, by Unbridled’s Song, is a very close sibling to multiple Grade 1 winner Exogenous, winner of the 1 1/8-mile Beldame Stakes (G1) in 2001. Champion Countess Diana, winner of the 1997 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), also is a member of the maternal family.

Mike Curry’s Kentucky Derby Top 20

1. Itsmyluckyday

11. Delhomme

2. Revolutionary

12. Oxbow

3. Shanghai Bobby

13. Overanalyze

4. Verrazano

14. Crop Report

5. Flashback

15. Goldencents

6. Orb

16. Mac the Man

7. Vyjack

17. Dynamic Sky

8. Super Ninety Nine

18. Palace Malice

9. Normandy Invasion

19. Falling Sky

10. Uncaptured

20. Ive Struck a Nerve

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Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

Image Description

Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

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