Submitted by Noel Michaels on Friday, March 15, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Rebel Stakes: Super Ninety Nine can give Baffert fourth straight win
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Super Ninety Nine has been unbeatable since moving to two turns, and his trainer, Bob Baffert, has been nearly as effective with his starters at Oaklawn Park. On Saturday, Super Ninety Nine will be heavily favored to give Baffert his fourth consecutive win in the Rebel.
Lookin At Lucky started Baffert’s streak in the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds in 2010. The Factor followed in 2011, and last year, Secret Circle delivered. In all, Baffert has won 13 stakes from 18 stakes starts at Oaklawn since the 2010 meet, at which he went 4 for 4. Baffert’s most lucrative season came a year ago, when he swept Oaklawn’s graded series for 3-year-olds and went 6 for 9 in stakes for purse earnings of $1,930,000.
Saturday’s Grade 2, $600,000 Rebel drew 11 entrants, including four that are on Daily Racing Form ’s Derby Watch top-20 list: Super Ninety Nine, tied for fourth on the national list at odds of 12-1; Delhomme and Oxbow, each listed at 30-1; and Den’s Legacy, who is 50-1.
The Rebel is a 50-point qualifying race for the Kentucky Derby and a springboard to the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 13. The Rebel Day card is one of the highest attended programs of the Oaklawn meet. The 11-race program also will feature an appearance by champion My Miss Aurelia in the Grade 3, $150,000 Azeri.
Super Ninety Nine is 2 for 2 in route races. He made his two-turn debut two starts ago at Santa Anita, winning a one-mile allowance in 1:35 while earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 100. He trumped himself last month in the Grade 3, $300,000 Southwest at Oaklawn, a 1 1/16-mile race he won by 11 lengths. Super Ninety Nine was given a Beyer of 102, the best career number in the Rebel.
“He’s a much better horse routing,” said Baffert, who trains Super Ninety Nine for Tanma Corporation. “He has natural speed. He’s fast, and he just keeps on, he just rebreaks.
“Last time, he just kept on going.”
Super Ninety Nine will likely have to call on his speed early in the Rebel to secure position after drawing post 11.
“We’ll need luck,” said Baffert, who has given the mount to Rafael Bejarano.
Baffert also has entered Den’s Legacy, who will be coming at them late. Den’s Legacy won the Grade 3 Generous at Betfair Hollywood Park in November and has since finished third to Violence in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity, second to Goldencents in the Grade 3 Sham, and second to Flashback in the Grade 2 Lewis.
“He’s the kind of horse that’s been knocking on the door, and we feel he deserves a chance to run,” Baffert said. “It’s good to ship him, see what he does on the road.”
Robby Albarado has the mount for Westrock Stables.
Delhomme was third in the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct in his last start Nov. 24 and shows a strong series of works for his first start at 3. The Rebel became his target because the timing of the race works for Delhomme, said Todd Pletcher, who trains the horse for WinStar Farm and Twin Creeks Racing.
“He got a couple of weeks off at WinStar following the Remsen, and timing-wise this race seems to fit his comeback schedule the best,” Pletcher said.
“He’s a big horse, carries plenty of condition, and we felt like a couple extra works would benefit him. He’s training very well coming up to the race.”
Delhomme set the pace in the Remsen and was beaten just three-quarters of a length by Overanalyze and Normandy Invasion while earning a career-high Beyer of 98. Pletcher said he liked how the horse fought on and noted that his effort at 1 1/8 miles was a “good sign he’ll handle the added distance as a 3-year-old.”
Garrett Gomez has the mount from post 4.
Oxbow, who wired the field in the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds, also has speed. He will break from post 10.
“I think there will be a lot of pace, but I think you’ve got to let him do his thing,” said D. Wayne Lukas, who trains Oxbow for Calumet Farm. “We can sit for at least a little while.”
Oxbow comes into the Rebel off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Risen Star. He was beaten just a half-length after being forced wide around both turns in a demanding trip in the field of 12.
“He’s a tough rascal,” said Lukas, who has given the mount to Mike Smith.
Treasury Bill will be making his two-turn debut following a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 San Vicente at Santa Anita. Prior to that race, he won a maiden special weight sprint.
“I’m pretty excited to try him two turns for the first time,” said Ron Ellis, who trains Treasury Bill. “I think he’s a true two-turn horse.”
Joe Talamo has the mount for Gary and Mary West. Treasury Bill will be coupled with Title Contender, who also is owned by the Wests.
The Rebel offers Kentucky Derby qualifying points to its first four finishers, with the winner securing 50; second, 20; third, 10; and fourth, 5. Saturday’s forecast is for partly cloudy skies and a high of 74 degrees, according to weather.com.