Messier: Kentucky Derby contender profile
Messier will bring excellent form to the Kentucky Derby, after recording a 15-length win in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) and a runner-up in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). The bay Ontario-bred colt registered formidable Brisnet Speed ratings of 104 and 108 for those efforts, and Messier’s tactical speed may prove to be an advantage in a 20-horse Kentucky Derby field.
Messier Speed Figures
Sire: Empire Maker
After finishing second as the favorite in the 2003 Kentucky Derby, Empire Maker rebounded five weeks later in the Belmont S., and the son of 1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled retired with three Grade 1 wins and more than $1.9 million in earnings from eight starts. Empire Maker has distinguished himself at stud, producing champions and numerous Grade 1 winners, but he’s never sired a Kentucky Derby winner. Pioneerof the Nile (2009) and Bodemeister (2012) were both second, and the sons of Empire Maker produced Kentucky Derby winners American Pharoah (2015) and Always Dreaming (2017), respectively.
Dam: Checkered Past
Messier is out of the multiple stakes-winning Checkered Past, a daughter of Smart Strike, the sire of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin and more than 10 champions. A son of the legendary Mr. Prospector, Smart Strike is the broodmare sire of 2009 Kentucky Derby upsetter Mine That Bird.
Owner: SF Racing, et al
SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Sol Kumin’s Madaket Stables, Robert E. Masterson, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital, Catherine M. Donovan, and Golconda Stable campaign Messier, who was purchased for $470,000 as a yearling. Kumin and Starlight partnered to win the Kentucky Derby with Justify (2018) and Authentic (2020). Messier will try to become the third Canadian-bred Kentucky Derby winner, the last being Sunny's Halo (1983).
Trainer: Tim Yakteen
Tim Yakteen took over training duties in late March for six-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, who is serving a 90-day suspension through early July, and Yakteen is also responsible for Santa Anita Derby winner Taiba. They will be his first Kentucky Derby starters.
Jockey: John Velazquez
John Velazquez won his first Kentucky Derby aboard Animal Kingdom (2011), and the Hall of Famer also piloted Always Dreaming (2017) and Authentic (2020) to the winner’s circle. Runner-up aboard Invisible Ink (2001) and Code of Honor (2020), Velazquez will make his 24th Kentucky Derby attempt.
Learn about all of the Kentucky Derby Contenders and the lead up to the Fastest Two Minutes in Sports here on TwinSpires.com