SF Racing, Starlight Racing and Madaket Stables’ Messier overpowered a small field of 2-year-old rivals on Nov. 14 in the Grade 3 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 colt by Empire Maker and a $470,000 yearling purchase, 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 3 ½-lengths.
“Messier shipped down this morning. He didn’t train here during the summer and had never been here,” Baffert said. “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.”
“We were in a good spot. There was plenty of pace in the race and that was to our advantage,” Prat said of his mount. “When I asked, he was there. And I think this horse will be fine with running on.”
Messier, a Canadian-bred named for the 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.
Saturday at Del Mar Baffert and Prat combined to win the Desi Arnaz stakes with the 2-year-old filly Eda.
The stakes win was the fourth of the meet for rider Prat, but his first in the Bob Hope. He now has 76 stakes wins at Del Mar, 10th most in track history.