Even-money favorite Super Ninety Nine set the pace and never looked back Monday to win Oaklawn Park's $300,000 Southwest Stakes. The 1 1/16-mile stakes is a prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 13.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Super Ninety Nine took the lead from the gate and set the pace on a sloppy track. Sitting behind the leader was Heaven's Runway, Officer Alex and Big Lute.
Super Ninety Nine, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, continued on the lead around the final turn and began to draw away from the field entering the stretch. The chestnut colt drove through the stretch and posted an 11 1/4-length victory over his nine rivals.
Owned by Tanma Corporation, Super Ninety Nine covered the distance in 1:44.84 on the sloppy going.
Finishing second was Fear the Kitten followed by Heaven's Runway, Channel Isle, Always in a Tiz, Will Take Charge, Big Lute, Brown Almighty, Texas Bling and Officer Alex.
This was the third win of the Southwest for Baffert in two years. Last year's stakes was divided into two divisions with the trainer getting wins from Secret Circle and Castaway.
Super Ninety Nine registered his first stakes victory and picked up $180,000. The colt has won three of five starts for $266,480. He won his first career start last October at Santa Anita and was second in the Hollywood Prevue on Nov. 22.
The colt closed 2012 with a fourth as the 4-5 favorite in an allowance race at Santa Anita on Dec. 28. He opened 2013 at Santa Anita by winning an allowance optional claiming event on Jan. 31.
This Presidents' Day win was worth 10 points in the new Kentucky Derby points system.
Baffert can return Super Ninety Nine to Oaklawn Park for the Rebel Stakes on March 16 on the way to the Arkansas Derby. The Hall of Fame trainer won last year's Rebel with Secret Circle and the Arkansas Derby with Bodemeister.
Super Ninety Nine returned $4.00, $3.80 and $3.00. Fear the Kitten paid $11.60 and $6.60, and Heaven's Runway paid $11.60 to show.