Messier (6-5) overpowered a small field of 2-year-old rivals Sunday to win the Grade 3, $100,000 Bob Hope Stakes, giving trainer Bob Baffert and rider Flavien Prat back-to-back stakes tallies for the weekend at Del Mar.
The winner, a royally bred colt by Empire Maker and a $470,000 yearling owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing and Madaket Stables, ran seven furlongs in 1:22.74 after powering past a pair of pacesetters who cut out wicked fractions of 21.40, 43.23 and 1:09.22. The victory margin was 3 1/2 lengths.
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“We were in a good spot,” Prat said. “There was plenty of pace in the race and that was to our advantage. When I asked, he was there, and I think this horse will be fine with running on.”
Messier gains ground in the turn and draws clear in the stretch under Flavien Prat to win the GIII Bob Hope Stakes. pic.twitter.com/hacovFHSRc— Del Mar Racetrack (@DelMarRacing) November 15, 2021
“Messier shipped down (from Santa Anita on Sunday) morning,” Baffert said. “He didn’t train here during the summer and had never been here. First time on a trailer, first time he’d seen Del Mar, and he walked into the paddock like he owned it. The track is pretty glib, so the fractions were fast. In the summer, 21-and-4 wouldn’t hold up, but this time speed carries, and they were rolling.”
Forbidden Kingdom (5-1), the primary pacesetter owned by MyRacehorse.com and Spendthrift Farm, finished second. Winning Map (8-5), owned by Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud, was third followed in last by Kamui (4-1), who belongs to the Baoma Corporation. Rock N Rye was scratched.
Messier, a Canadian-bred named for Hall of Fame hockey player Mark Messier, scored his first stakes triumph in his third start. The $60,000 winner’s share of the purse increased his earnings to $105,600. He returned $4.40 and $2.60. Forbidden Kingdom paid $4 to place. There was no show wagering.
Saturday at Del Mar, Baffert and Prat combined to win the Desi Arnaz Stakes with 2-year-old filly Eda.
The track’s Pick 6 single-ticket jackpot wager carried over once again and has risen to $245,884. It will be in the pool to start the wagering when racing returns on Friday.