Messier was a convincing winner of the Bob Hope at Del Mar (Benoit Photo)
An impressive winner of his past two starts, Messier will try to make it three in a row in Saturday’s $300,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (G2). Only four rivals have signed on to oppose him in the 1 1/16-mile test, including stablemate Barossa.
Both are trained by 13-time Futurity winner Bob Baffert for a mostly overlapping ownership consortium including SF Racing, Starlight Racing, and Madaket Stables. Both were pricey yearling purchases, Barossa commanding $775,000 at Keeneland September and Messier bringing $470,000 at Fasig-Tipton.
So far, Messier has been the flashier of the duo. After a second to Olympic Legend in his June 27 unveiling at Los Alamitos, Messier resurfaced Oct. 22 to dominate a six-furlong maiden at Santa Anita. He took the blinkers off for the Nov. 14 Bob Hope (G3) at Del Mar, where he rolled from last in a four-horse field, but puts the headgear back on Saturday.
Although Messier stretches out to two turns for the first time here, the son of Empire Maker is bred to relish the added distance. The Ontario-bred, who is named for another Canadian – NHL Hall of Famer Mark Messier – keeps Flavien Prat aboard in post 3.
Barossa, already a veteran of route races, bids to rebound from a ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). By leading sire Into Mischief, he broke his maiden over a mile two back at Santa Anita. Juan Hernandez retains the mount.
Durante, runner-up to Barossa in that maiden, graduated in wire-to-wire fashion next time at Del Mar. The Distorted Humor colt is one of two Futurity chances for trainer Doug O’Neill, who also has Reddam Racing’s homebred Slow Down Andy.
A son of the same connections’ 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1) champion Nyquist, Slow Down Andy was a sharp debut winner before missing narrowly in the Golden State Juvenile. The California-bred tries open company, along with two turns, in this spot with jockey Mario Gutierrez.
Rounding out the quintet is the Luis Mendez-trained Olympic Legend, last seen fading to third in the Sept. 18 Capote S. at this track. As a speedy, precocious type earlier in the season, the Street Boss colt has questions to answer on the stretch-out.
The Los Alamitos Futurity, offering Derby points on the 10-4-2-1 scale to the eligible top four, is carded as the 9TH race Saturday with a 6:58 p.m. (ET) post time.