HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) — Super Ninety Nine led from the start and dominated down the stretch for an 11¼-length win in the $300,000 Southwest Stakes in sloppy conditions at Oaklawn Park on Monday.
The runaway victory continues a successful stretch for trainer Bob Baffert, who won both divisions of the Kentucky Derby prep race last year. It's Baffert's third straight win in the Southwest Stakes and his fifth Grade 3 race at Oaklawn overall, including last year's Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby.
Super Ninety Nine began the day as a 7-5 favorite before going off at even money. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, the colt paid $4, $3.80 and $3. Fear The Kitten was second and paid $11.60 and $6.60, while Heaven's Runway was third and paid $11.60 to show.
Baffert won both divisions of the same race a year ago, when it was split after 21 horses were entered. Castaway and Secret Circle were the winners on that day, with Bejarano in the saddle for both victories.
Bejarano had another good day at Oaklawn on Monday.
Super Ninety Nine broke quickly from the gate, holding off an early challenge from Heaven's Runway, and had the inside position into the first turn of the 1 1/16-mile race. The colt maintained its lead on the back stretch and faced its only other significant challenge from Always In A Tiz before pulling away on the home stretch.
Oaklawn dodged showers for much of the day, but the skies opened up 30 minutes before the featured race. The rain lightened to a small drizzle in the moments before post time, but the track — which had been rated as fast throughout the day — was a sloppy for the 1:44.84 winning lap.
Oaklawn's series of Kentucky Derby prep races continues with the $600,000 Rebel Stakes on March 16th and the Arkansas Derby on April 13th.