Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Derby Hopeful: Super Ninety Nine

Derby Hopefuls feature the horses I view as the best contenders leading up to the Kentucky Derby. Each horse spotlighted in a Derby Hopeful will join the 2013 PTG Derby Hopeful roster, found on the right side of the blog. Horses will be listed in an order that corresponds to how highly I think of them, with the horse I think most highly of ranking at the top. A horse featured in a Derby Hopeful may be taken off the roster if its performances after its article are published are not up to par or if that horse is taken off the Triple Crown trail, though those articles will remain on my blog.

With many paragraphs drawn from "Super Ninety Nine: Something to Look Forward To", dated 11-16-12

Super Ninety Nine
Photo by Terri Cage
He tossed his head, flashing his radiant white blaze as his red mane flowed, his neck arched as his rich chestnut coat gleamed in the morning sun. My eyes focused upon the Bob Baffert trainee's Breeders' Cup saddle towel, reading his name: Super Ninety Nine. Prior to seeing him in person, I had not been incredibly impressed by the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint contender. However, as soon as the colt graced my vision, he became my top selection.

Super Ninety Nine displayed great muscularity for his age, possessing the powerful build of a Quarter Horse. It was impossible to deny that the colt reminded me of a former grade one-winning Baffert trainee, Euroears. Sharing the same chestnut coloring and similar markings, Super Ninety Nine was also powerfully built just as Euroears had been and also galloped in the same robust manner.

Unfortunately, after being cast in his stall, Super Ninety Nine was withdrawn from the Juvenile Sprint and thus was unable to reveal what he was capable of on Breeders' Cup weekend. But Super Ninety Nine had impressed me enough in the mornings to land a position on my radar.

The colt's debut was clearly exciting enough for his connections to enter him in the Breeders' Cup. His first start came in a seven-furlong maiden special weight over Santa Anita's main track, in which the chestnut was sent off as the third choice in a field of twelve. Super Ninety Nine did not briskly leave the starting gate, but with slight urging from jockey Martin Garcia, the chestnut colt rocketed to the lead as the field commenced its run down the backstretch.

However, the Tanma Corporation-owned colt was soon overtaken by the favorite, Quietasacat, off of whom Super Ninety Nine raced just to the outside. Just a half-length separated the two as an initial quarter-mile split of 23.05 was set, but Super Ninety Nine gradually began to decrease Quietasacat's lead as the pair led the field into the turn.

Super Ninety Nine matched strides with his nemesis midway through the curve, gaining a slight advantage as they reached the quarter pole. With asking from Garcia, Super Ninety Nine began to kick clear, lengthening his lead at the top of the stretch, holding off the charges of his rivals. In the final yards, the colt seemed to find his best stride despite changing leads, crossing the wire 1 1/4 lengths in front.

Kept out of the Breeders’ Cup, Super Ninety Nine instead made his graded stakes debut in the seven-furlong Hollywood Prevue Stakes (GIII), racing mid-pack prior to closing willingly to finish just a ½-length behind the winner. A lackluster fourth-place finish in his next start, a six-furlong allowance at Santa Anita, instilled worry that this colt was not as talented as he appeared.

But he proved this doubt to be wrong in his sophomore debut, which was also his first two-turn race. Despite a slightly rough beginning, Super Ninety Nine initially settled off the leader prior to gaining ground on that rival, finding himself on the lead as the field rounded the far turn. Entering the homestretch, the chestnut colt kicked clear, drawing off to an easy 3 ¼-length victory.

Following Baffert’s trend of succeeding with gifted three-year-olds shipping into Arkansas from California, Super Ninety Nine faced nine rivals over a sloppy track at Oaklawn Park in the Southwest Stakes (GIII). Breaking sharply, Super Ninety Nine quickly went to the lead, never looking back from there as he set steady fractions prior to drawing off to an effortless 11 ¼-length triumph. Though his performance may have been enhanced due to the sloppy track, the colt was clearly the best of the group.

Due to the speed he has shown, Super Ninety Nine has been primarily viewed as a sprinter, but he has clearly blossomed around two turns. He certainly has been distance questions to tackle, but he may find support in his pedigree. Bred by Northwest Farms LLC, this rising star brings to life bloodlines that are like a web of speed and stamina. Mated on a cross of two of the most powerful sire lines of the breed, Super Ninety Nine possesses a pedigree that is not lacking in strength on either side.

Super Ninety Nine
Photo by Terri Cage

 Sired by Pulpit, Super Ninety Nine shares the same sire as such grade one winners as Corinthian, Ice Box, Purge, Pyro, Rutherienne, Sky Mesa, Stroll, and Tapit. Pulpit is of course a son of the great A.P. Indy, the sire of nearly thirty grade one winners, including Bernardini, Flashing, Mineshaft, Little Belle, Music Note, and Rags to Riches. The A.P. Indy sire line from which Super Ninety Nine descends has been highly successful, as A.P. Indy is also the sire of such productive studs as Bernardini, Congrats, Malibu Moon, Mineshaft, and Stephen Got Even. 

Super Ninety Nine's dam, Exogenetic, is a three-quarters sister to Exogenous, an ill-fated multiple grade one winner, and is also the dam of the multiple black-type-winning Elusive Horizon. A daughter of Unbridled's Song, Exogenetic provides Super Ninety Nine with the same broodmare sire as the group one winner Better Than Ever, as well as the graded stakes winners Etched, Hold Me Back, and Out of Bounds.

War Exchange, Super Ninety Nine's fourth dam, was a stakes-winning mare who produced two graded stakes winners, one of which was Barbarika, two-time Horse of the Year Curlin's granddam, thus making War Exchange the multiple classic winner's third dam. War Exchange is also the third dam of the grade one-winning champion Countess Diana.

A colt that caught my attention as soon as he stepped into my vision, it will be exciting to see how he progresses. Bringing to the table eye-catching conformation and movement, as well as a beautiful pedigree, Super Ninety Nine continues to show great promise and could be on the path to glory.


  1. Saw him yesterday at Oaklawn...looked great in paddock....sure ran well in the slop

    1. Thanks for your comment! He sure is a stunning animal!

  2. Just a great write up! Thanks Mary!