Out of action since the 2013 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), Super Ninety Nine is to make his return for trainer Bob Baffert in the $100,000 Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III) against four opponents at Santa Anita Park on Memorial Day, May 26.
The speedy 4-year-old son of Pulpit, owned by Susan Chu's Tanma Corporation, has been working weekly at Santa Anita since late April. His most recent drill, five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 May 19, was the fifth-quickest of 44 at the distance. He covered the same distance in :59 3/5 six days before that.
Super Ninety Nine made some noise on the Triple Crown trail last year, trouncing the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park on a sloppy, sealed track by 11 1/4 lengths as an even-money favorite. He returned for Oaklawn's Rebel Stakes (gr. II) as a strong choice again, but tired to fifth after dueling on the front end and being squeezed at the eighth pole. Looking to rebound in Santa Anita Derby, the chestnut colt set a lively pace before fading to third, nearly 10 lengths behind the victorious Goldencents .
Martin Garcia has the call on Super Ninety Nine, who breaks from the middle of the small Los Angeles field. The race is the second on Monday's card with a 2 p.m. PDT scheduled post.
In the six-furlong test, Super Ninety Nine will have to deal with Wild Dude, one of the top sprinters on the local circuit. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee won the Palos Verdes Stakes (gr. II) gamely in January, defeating the Baffert-trained 2013 Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner Secret Circle by a neck.
In his most recent start, the 4-year-old Wildcat Heir colt was beaten by a nose by Big Macher as the 7-5 pick in the April 12 Potrero Grande Stakes (gr. II).
Mike Smith takes over for the injured Rafael Bejarano on the Florida-bred Wild Dude, owned by Hollendorfer and Green Smith Jr. Wild Dude breaks from post 4 and will carry top weight of 124 pounds, five more than each of his opponents.
Also in the field is stakes winner Cyclometer, third in the Potrero Grande last time for trainer Bruce Headley. Multiple stakes winner Wine Police exited fifth in the Potrero Grande and will race with blinkers this time for trainer Peter Miller. Color of Courage, sent out by Richard Mandella, makes his first start since finishing second in the Vernon O. Underwood Stakes (gr. III) Nov. 28 at Hollywood Park.
$100,000 Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III, Race 2, 2 p.m.), 3 & Up, 6 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Wine Police (KY), V Espinoza, 119, P Miller
2. Cyclometer (CA), E A Maldonado, 119, B Headley
3. Super Ninety Nine (KY), M Garcia, 119, B Baffert
4. Wild Dude (FL), M E Smith, 124, J Hollendorfer
5. Color of Courage (KY), J Talamo, 119, R E Mandella
Blinkers On: Wine Police