SF Racing, Starlight Racing and Madaket Stables’ Messier overpowered a small field of 2-year-old rivals Sunday in the Grade III 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 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 three and one-half lengths.
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 track’s Pick Six Single Ticket Jackpot wager carried once again and now has risen to $245,884. It will be in the pool to start the wagering when racing returns on Friday. First post will be 12:30 p.m.
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.”
FRACTIONS: :21.40 :43.23 1:09.22 1:22.74
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.
The stakes win was the second of the meet for trainer Baffer and his fifth in the Bob Hope. He now has 146 stakes wins at Del Mar, far and away the track’s leader.
The winning owners are SF Racing (Gavin Murphy of Lexington, KY); Starlight Racing (Jack Wolf of Lexington, KY), and Madaket Stables (Sol Kumin, New York, NY)
Del Mar Press Release
Photo: Messier (Benoit Photo)