Messier gave trainer Bob Baffert and jockey John Velazquez their second dominant graded winner of the afternoon when he flew home an unchallenged victor of the GIII Robert B. Lewis S. at Santa Anita Sunday. Shedding the blinkers after getting outkicked in the Dec. 11 GII Los Alamitos Futurity last time out, the 3-5 favorite tugged his way to the fore with little encouragement from Velazquez. Second choice Sir London (Malibu Moon) chased the pace with longshot Cabo Spirit latched on the top two while racing three deep. Sir London was first to blink as Cabo Spirit did his best to keep pace rounding the home bend, but there was no running down Messier, who galloped home by 15 lengths as nobody from the back made any impact.
Messier is the fourth straight Lewis winner for Baffert, but like his stablemate Adare Manor who won the GIII Las Virgenes S. earlier on Sunday's card, the colt was ineligible to collect the race's qualifying Kentucky Derby points due to the trainer's current ban at Churchill Downs.
Second in his five-furlong debut at Los Alamitos last June, Messier returned four months later and was tabbed a 'TDN Rising Star' following his 6 1/2-length romp going six furlongs at Santa Anita Oct. 22. He followed up with a win in the Nov. 14 GIII Bob Hope S. at Del Mar, but was second as the 1-5 favorite behind Slow Down Andy (Nyquist) in the Dec. 11 GII Los Alamitos Futurity last time out.
Checkered Past, a two-time stakes winner for breeder Sam-Son Farm, produced a filly by Candy Ride (Arg) in 2021 and was bred back to GI Kentucky Derby winner Authentic. The 12-year-old mare sold to Silesia Farm for $290,000 as part of the Sam-Son dispersal at last year's Keeneland January sale.
Messier's second dam is the unraced Catch the Flag (A.P. Indy), a full-sister to Canadian champion Catch the Thrill (A.P. Indy).
Sunday, Santa Anita
ROBERT B. LEWIS S.-GIII, $200,000, Santa Anita, 2-6, 3yo,
1 1/16m, 1:42.89, ft.
1–MESSIER, 120, c, 3, by Empire Maker
1st Dam: Checkered Past (MSW, $334,284), by Smart Strike
2nd Dam: Catch the Flag, by A.P. Indy
3rd Dam: Catch the Ring, by Seeking the Gold
'TDN Rising Star' ($470,000 Ylg '20 FTKSEL). O-SF Racing LLC,
Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Robert E. Masterson,
Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital LLC, Catherine M.
Donovan, Golconda Stable & Siena Farm LLC; B-Sam-Son Farm
(ON); T-Bob Baffert; J-John R. Velazquez. $120,000. Lifetime
Record: 5-3-2-0, $285,600. Werk Nick Rating: A.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Cabo Spirit, 124, c, 3, Pioneerof the Nile–Fancy Day (Ire), by
Shamardal. ($145,000 RNA Ylg '20 KEESEP; $575,000 2yo '21
OBSAPR). O-Kretz Racing LLC; B-WinStar Farm, LLC (KY);
T-George Papaprodromou. $40,000.
3–Wharton, 120, c, 3, Candy Ride (Arg)–Her Smile, by Include.
1ST BLACK TYPE, 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($475,000 Ylg '20
KEESEP). O-SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables
LLC, Robert E. Masterson, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge
Capital LLC, Catherine M. Donovan, Golconda Stable & Siena
Farm LLC; B-KatieRich Farms (KY); T-Bob Baffert. $24,000.
Margins: 15, 7, 4HF. Odds: 0.60, 18.20, 4.40.
Also Ran: Sir London, Happy Jack. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.