Updated on 04/26/2013 8:52AM

Kentucky Derby: Super Ninety Nine, Den's Legacy will not run

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Barbara D. Livingston
Super Ninety Nine will not run in the Kentucky Derby, trainer Bob Baffert confirmed Tuesday.

Making official what had long been suspected, trainer Bob Baffert on Tuesday told Churchill Downs’s publicity department that both Super Ninety Nine and Den’s Legacy, who had been ranked 18th and 20th, respectively, on the points list for the May 4 Kentucky Derby, would not run.

Though both 3-year-olds were among the top 20 in points, they had not been listed in Daily Racing Form’s Derby Watch top 20, owing to the likelihood they were not going to compete.

Their defections move Charming Kitten and Winning Cause – both trained by Todd Pletcher – into the top 20 among points. Winning Cause, however, is not expected to run, either. Right behind him on the list, currently ranked 21st, is Code West, also trained by Baffert, who has cited the Belmont Stakes as a long-range goal for Code West.

If more than 20 horses enter the Derby, points are used to determine the field, a system put in place this year by Churchill Downs to replace the old system, which used graded stakes earnings.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Money still could come into play, though, because earnings in unrestricted stakes races are used as a tie-breaker to separate horses with equal points. For instance, first place in the $175,000-added Derby Trial on Saturday at Churchill Downs is worth 20 points and at least $108,500 in earnings, which would place the winner above Code West, who has 20 points, but only $90,000 in unrestricted earnings.

Baffert said he decided to officially take both Super Ninety Nine and Den’s Legacy out of consideration for the Derby “after speaking with my owners.” Super Ninety Nine is the first horse owned by Susan Chu, who races as Tanma Corporation. Den’s Legacy is owned by the Westrock Stable of Scott and Joe Ford.

“Based on their recent form, we just didn’t feel they’d be competitive enough to win,” Baffert told Churchill’s publicity department. “They’re both good horses, but we’ll look for something else down the road.

“We realize there are some other horses on the bubble with the hope of running, and we wanted to get this information out as soon as possible to make sure they’d have every opportunity to run and prepare for a start in the Derby.”

As of now, Baffert’s only horse in the top 20 among points is Sunland Derby winner Govenor Charlie, who ranks 11th. He, however, has not had a smooth past fortnight.

Govenor Charlie last worked April 11, when he went a half-mile in 48.20 seconds at Santa Anita, his second work since the March 24 Sunland Derby. After shipping to Kentucky last week, Govenor Charlie was sent to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington for examination of his right hind foot. Govenor Charlie got a clean bill of health and was at Churchill Downs by Thursday afternoon, but only jogged Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, finally galloping Tuesday. He is not scheduled to work until Monday, Baffert said Tuesday afternoon. Baffert is flying to Kentucky on Thursday.

So, as of now, Govenor Charlie is looking at heading into the Derby with just one work since April 11 following a compromised training schedule, far from ideal for someone like Baffert, who is known for aggressively drilling his Derby horses. He has won the Derby three times.
“When I watch them train, then I’ll know,” Baffert said of Code West and Govenor Charlie. “I’m not in a hurry. They’ll tell me.”

– additional reporting by Mike Welsch