MESSIER has made his mark as a contender for the 2022 Queen’s Plate with a big win in the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes at Del Mar on November 14. Of course, the California-based, Bob Baffert-trained colt will have big races on his plate before next summer’s Canadian classic, but perhaps this Sam-Son Farms-bred will visit next year.

Messier, born at Sam-Son’s Milton, ON farm and a son of Empire Maker – Checkered Past by Smart Strike, overpowered a small field of 2-year-old rivals Sunday in the Bob Hope Stakes, giving trainer Bob Baffert and rider Flavien Prat back-to-back stakes tallies for the weekend at Del Mar.

Messier is owned by SF Racing (Gavin Murphy of Lexington, KY); Starlight Racing (Jack Wolf of Lexington, KY), and Madaket Stables (Sol Kumin, New York, NY), Golconda Stable, and Siena Farm. He was purchased for $470,000 by Canadian Donato Lanni at the 2020 Fasig Tipton Select Yearling sale in Kentucky from Sam-Son which has been dispersing much of its breeding stock and young horses.

Messier 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 in the $100,000 feature was three and one-half lengths.

Finishing second was and Spendthrift Farm’s Forbidden Kingdom – the primary pacesetter – and third was HRH Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud’s Winning Map.

Messier, of course named for star hockey player Mark Messier who played 25 years in the National Hockey League, was scoring his first stakes triumph in his third start. The $60,000 winner’s share of the purse increased his earnings to $105,600.

The winner, the race’s 6/5 favorite, returned $4.40, $2.60. Forbidden Kingdom returned $4.00 to place. There was no show wagering in a race that had only a four-horse field.

Messier is the third foal to race for CHECKERED PAST, who won the Trillium Stakes twice at Woodbine and earned $334,284 in her career with five total wins. Checkered Past is a daughter of Catch the Flag, an unraced daughter of Canadian champion filly CATCH THE RING, dam of stakes winners Catch the Luck and Catch the Thrill as well as Ontario stallion Speed Ring. The fourth dam is Sam-Son’s Outstanding Broodmare RADIANT RING, making this colt a four-generation Sam-Son star.

Checkered Past was bought for $290,000 this past January by Silesia Farm and she foaled a Candy Ride (Arg) filly this year and was bred to Authentic.


FLAVIEN PRAT (Messier, winner) — “We were in a good spot. 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.”

BOB BAFFERT (Messier, winner) — “Messier shipped down this morning. 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 four wouldn’t hold up, but this time speed carries and they were rolling.”