Messier drew away in the Robert B. Lewis (Photo by Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com)
Odds-on favorites ran away with both features at Santa Anita on Sunday by a combined margin of 28 lengths. The 3-5 Messier was much the best in the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis (G3), and the 2-5 Adare Manor was likewise a league apart in the $196,000 Las Virgenes (G3) for fillies.
Both sophomores are trained by Bob Baffert, who is suspended by Churchill Downs Inc., and therefore ineligible to earn points in their respective Road to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks races.
Messier was coming off a loss to Slow Down Andy in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), where he compromised his chances by failing to relax sufficiently in blinkers. The son of Empire Maker removed the headgear on Sunday, and the difference was evident from the start.
Although going to the lead from his rail post with John Velazquez, Messier was traveling well within his comfort zone. Sir London applied pressure, with Cabo Spirit also prominent wider out, but Messier was the picture of composure. First to feel the heat was Sir London, and as he bowed out, Cabo Spirit was the only one left to try to go with Messier. He didn’t last either.
Rounding the far turn, Messier drew off at will and crossed the wire a 15-length winner. He negotiated 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.89 and improved his record to 5-3-2-0, $285,600, including a score in the Bob Hope (G3) two back at Del Mar.
Cabo Spirit, hitherto better on turf, proved that he was effective on dirt as well. The George Papaprodromou trainee earned four points for his runner-up effort. Messier’s stablemate Wharton checked in a further seven lengths back in third. Sir London was the only runner besides Cabo Spirit to join the Derby leaderboard, notching one point in fourth. Happy Jack anchored the five-horse field throughout.
Messier races for a consortium led by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, and Madaket Stables. Bred by Sam-Son Farm in Ontario, the $470,000 Fasig-Tipton yearling is out of the multiple stakes-winning Smart Strike mare Checkered Past.
Michael Lund Petersen’s Adare Manor followed up her stellar maiden romp by conquering the Las Virgenes by 13 lengths. Also with Velazquez in the saddle, the Uncle Mo filly was lapped onto Gracelund Gray until passing the half-mile mark, when beginning to assert her superiority. Adare Manor widened her margin as she pleased while finishing the mile in 1:37.11.
Queen of Thorns, the 5-2 second choice, was best of the rest, and the Peter Eurton pupil took home four points. Third-placer Miss Everything received two points, and Gracelund Gray got one point in fourth. The field was reduced to four by the scratch of Eda.
Adare Manor has earned $176,600 from her 4-2-1-0 line. Her two losses came in sprints, and she’s 2-for-2 since stepping up to a mile.
Bred by Town & Country Horse Farms and Gary Broad in Kentucky, Adare Manor is a veteran of the auction scene, most recently going to her current connections for $375,000 as a juvenile at OBS last summer. She is the first foal produced by Grade 3 winner Brooklynsway, a Giant Gizmo mare whose notable victories include the 2015 Bison City S., a Canadian fillies’ classic, and the 2016 Doubledogdare (G3) at Keeneland.