10/29/2012 2:08PM

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint: With two fillies defecting, Super Ninety Nine and Merit Man top field

Barbara D. Livingston
Super Ninety Nine is the first horse owned by Susan Chu - and he's running in the Breeders' Cup.

ARCADIA, Calif. - With the two ultra-fast fillies, Kauai Katie and Beholder, taking a pass on the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint in favor of the $2 million BC Juvenile Fillies, the outlook for the Juvenile Sprint changed dramatically Monday.

Two colts with limited experience – Super Ninety Nine and Merit Man – now will be favored in the six-furlong race, which leads off the 15-race Breeders’ Cup as the first of six Friday BC events.

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: Race-by-race coverage, video, early odds]

Super Ninety Nine, trained by Bob Baffert, has raced only once, albeit impressively, when he captured a seven-furlong maiden race on Oct. 7 at Santa Anita.

“I kept trying to find him a race and wasn’t able to get him in until the first weekend of Santa Anita,” said Baffert, who won the inaugural Juvenile Sprint last year with Secret Circle. “I didn’t really want to go seven furlongs with him, but that’s what I had to settle for. He’s a pretty nice colt.”

Super Ninety Nine, by Pulpit, is owned by Susan Chu, a newcomer to the sport who races under the banner of Tanma Corporation. Although she has horses with other trainers, Super Ninety Nine is the first she has had with Baffert.

“I told her, ‘You know, it usually doesn’t work out this way, that the first horse you have is a Breeders’ Cup horse,’” Baffert said with a laugh. “She’s getting pretty spoiled right away.”

Merit Man, owned by a three-way partnership and trained by Bob Hess Jr., posted one of the slowest workouts of the week when going five furlongs Friday in 1:04.20, but Hess pretty much waved it off. The colt is unbeaten in two starts, ending with a 5 1/2-length triumph in the Tim Conway Stakes on opening weekend of the Santa Anita meet.

“He’s not the greatest work horse by any means,” he said. “He’s still learning. He schooled really well here [Sunday] and I’m happy with him. We won’t worry about the competition, just our own horse and see what happens.”

Even with Kauai Katie and Beholder opting out of the Juvenile Sprint, as well as Almost an Angel, the race still was expected to have two fillies in the lineup of seven: Sweet Shirley Mae, trained by Wesley Ward, and Ceiling Kitty, in from England.