02/19/2013 4:52PM

Oaklawn Park notes: Super Ninety Nine headed home but may return for Arkansas Derby

Coady Photography
Super Ninety Nine didn't let rain or a sloppy track bother him during an 11-length romp in the Southwest Stakes. He was given a 101 Beyer Speed Figure.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Super Ninety Nine’s win in the Grade 3, $300,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Monday was somewhat reminiscent of Oxbow’s score in last month’s Grade 3, $200,000 Lecomte at Fair Grounds.

Both horses were front-running, 11-length winners of the first graded 3-year-old preps in this region. And both traveled for their races for Hall of Fame trainers. But their paths are not likely to cross soon.

Super Ninety Nine left Oaklawn Park early Tuesday morning to head back to trainer Bob Baffert’s base in Southern California, while Oxbow will depart from trainer D. Wayne Lukas’s stable at Oaklawn on Friday to run in the Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star at Fair Grounds this Saturday.

Super Ninety Nine’s next move is still to be determined, Baffert said. He said if the horse were to return to Oaklawn, it would likely be for the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 13 rather than the next prep, the Grade  2, $600,000 Rebel on March 16. Super Ninety Nine, he noted, has had two races somewhat close together now, winning a first-level allowance at Santa Anita in his two-turn debut Jan.  31, then returning less than three weeks later for the Southwest.

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

For the allowance win run on a fast track, Super Ninety Nine earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 100, and for the Southwest, run in the rain over a track downgraded to sloppy, he earned a 101.

“He ran back the race he ran last time,” Baffert said shortly after the Southwest.

Baffert added that Super Ninety Nine’s score in the Southwest has him looking forward to starting Code West in the Risen Star. Code West was second to Super Ninety Nine in the Jan. 31 allowance at Santa Anita and will be making his first start since on Saturday.

Super Ninety Nine now owns two of the top six Beyers put up by a 3-year-old colt on dirt so far this year. The only other horse who can claim the same is Itsmyluckyday.

Super Ninety Nine races for the Tanma Corporation of Susan Chu. Baffert said the horse was the owner’s first racehorse. Super Ninety Nine is a son of Pulpit and he was a $260,000 purchase at an Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company June 2-year-old auction last year.

Will Take Charge was the leading local hope for Southwest off his win in the $150,000 Smarty Jones last month at Oaklawn. He finished sixth and emerged from the race in good order, with his trainer, Lukas, making no excuses Tuesday.

“I don’t have an explanation. I wish I did,” Lukas said. “The horse pulled up fine. He’s good this morning.

“It’s always easy to blame the racetrack. Everybody had a built in excuse when the rains came. I mean, it’s easy to say that, but those are the cards that were dealt, so you have to deal with them on that particular day, and, for better or for worse.”

Will Take Charge will be considered for the Rebel, Lukas said.

Baffert said he plans to send a yet-to-be determined horse to the Rebel, a race he won last year with Secret Circle.

Lukas also finished fourth in the Southwest with Channel Isle, who he said is possible for the Rebel.

Fear the Kitten, who ran second in the Southwest, is a candidate for the Grade 3, $550,000 Spiral next month at Turfway, according to his trainer, Mike Maker.

Plans for Big Lute, an impressive debut winner last month at Oaklawn who finished seventh in the Southwest, are to be determined, trainer Steve Hobby said. The horse raced with the pace Monday and made two runs at Super Ninety Nine, Hobby said.

“He got tired,” he said. “His next start remains to be seen. We’ll see how he trains after this, how he recovers.”