2022 Kentucky Derby Contender Profile – Messier


Given the tumultuous nature of the Derby trail for trainer Bob Baffert, the most scrutinized Derby aspirant is arguably Messier.  He burst on the scene with a commanding victory in the Bob Lewis against four overmatched rivals, riding a strong inside bias to a 15 length score.  That set him up for a final prep that would be determined by his connections, given the untenable nature of his trainer’s candidacy to start horses in the Kentucky Derby.

It is unfair to view Messier as a horse who simply came to the fore in 2022, he hinted at having serious ability last year, breaking his maiden in October before winning the Bob Hope in fine fashion at Del Mar.  While his Los Al Futurity defeat took away some of the luster he had previously earned, there was no doubt he was a real prospect heading into the new year.  He has not disappointed yet, even if he was expected to win last time out in the Santa Anita Derby.  The winner of that affair, his stablemate Taiba, is an unknown quantity with limitless potential.



Messier appears to be a horse who can go the classic distance of ten furlongs.  He has the right running style for the race, as he is at his best when forwardly placed.  His sire, Empire Maker, has produced two Kentucky Derby runners-up in Pioneerof the Nile and Bodemeister.  The Derby will be this colt’s second start off the short layoff, and he will offer significantly more value than he has at any stage of his career.  While it is never thrilling to take a horse off a somewhat surprisingly poor effort, there had been enough from this colt prior to his last start to latch onto and that makes him a real contender.


Depending on the post position draw, there is a reasonable chance that Messier is put on the lead by John Velazquez.  He has crossed the wire first in the last two Kentucky Derbies, both of which came in wire-to-wire fashion.  The lack of a significant amount of confirmed speed could play into Velazquez’s hands here.  We also know that Messier’s best race came on the lead, as is often the case with pace types.  Should he draw the 10 or in with the speed on the outside, don’t be surprised if he races forwardly and forgets to quit.



Messier is a major player for me, even with the knocks outlined above.  He is an ‘A in the multi-race plays and gets top spots in exotic wagers.  If he is able to get the lead in here he is a major threat and worthy of a win bet if he goes off at 12-1 or more.

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