Record-Breaking Exhibition: Messier’s Astonishing Performance

The Dominance of Messier in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes

In a remarkable display of talent, Messier, the Canadian-bred colt trained by Bob Baffert, delivered an outstanding performance in the Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park. Despite his incredible victory, Messier’s eligibility for the Kentucky Derby was compromised due to Churchill Downs’ suspension of Baffert. Nevertheless, this did not diminish his status as a formidable contender on the Derby trail.

A Strategic Adjustment and a Record-Breaking Victory

Messier’s journey to triumph began with a disappointing runner-up position in the Los Alamitos Futurity, where he wore blinkers. However, in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes, he shed his blinkers, allowing him to approach the race with a different strategy. Jockey John Velazquez, aware of the importance of securing a good position from post one, decided not to chase the frontrunners but instead let Messier establish his rhythm. This tactical adjustment paid off tremendously.

As the race unfolded, Messier faced pressure from Sir London and Cabo Spirit along the backstretch. Despite the challenge, he maintained his lead going into the far turn and gradually distanced himself from Sir London. Cabo Spirit valiantly stayed within three lengths until the three-sixteenths pole, but Messier unveiled another gear that left everyone in awe. With an explosive burst of speed, Messier surged ahead, leaving his competitors in the dust, ultimately crossing the finish line an astounding 15 lengths ahead of the closest rival.

Troublesome Derby Ineligibility

While Messier’s victory was undeniable, his ineligibility for the esteemed Kentucky Derby due to Baffert’s suspension introduced a bittersweet twist to the story. Despite not being able to earn Derby qualifying points, Messier’s performance in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes attested to his immense talent and potential as a top contender. Even without Derby eligibility, bettors have recognized his capabilities, placing him at 20/1 on Caesars-William Hill’s Derby futures board.

It’s worth noting that the Robert B. Lewis Stakes holds particular significance for Baffert, as Medina Spirit, another one of his horses, won the race last year in a thrilling photo finish. Baffert himself acknowledged the growth and maturity displayed by Messier, emphasizing the caliber of the competitors he faced.

The Legitimacy of Messier

Starting as the overwhelming favorite at 3/5 odds, Messier proved his legitimacy as a racehorse. His victory not only redeemed his previous runner-up finish but also marked his second graded stakes win. Messier had previously showcased his talent by winning the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes by an impressive seven lengths in November.

However, while Messier’s triumph solidified his reputation, it did not provide clarity regarding his future races. Baffert indicated that the decision would depend on the performance of his other horses. As a trainer, Baffert values flexibility and evaluates each horse’s condition and readiness individually before determining their next race.


The Robert B. Lewis Stakes witnessed the extraordinary prowess of Messier, who dominated his rivals and left a lasting impression on spectators and connections alike. Despite the setback of Derby ineligibility, Messier’s record-breaking victory undoubtedly establishes him as a force to be reckoned with in the world of horse racing.

Unique FAQs

1. How did Messier’s victory in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes impact his eligibility for the Kentucky Derby?

Messier’s eligibility for the Kentucky Derby was compromised due to Churchill Downs’ suspension of his trainer, Bob Baffert. This suspension prevented Messier from earning qualifying points for the prestigious race, despite his remarkable performance.

2. Who were Messier’s strongest competitors in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes?

Messier faced pressure from Sir London and Cabo Spirit during the race. While Sir London faded, Cabo Spirit remained within striking distance until the final stretch before Messier unleashed his unmatched speed.

3. What was the significance of shedding the blinkers for Messier in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes?

Messier’s decision to run without blinkers allowed him to adopt a different strategy for the race. This adjustment helped him establish a better position early on and contributed to his dominant victory.

4. How has Messier’s performance prior to the Robert B. Lewis Stakes showcased his potential?

Messier’s previous wins, including his impressive seven-length victory in the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes, highlighted his talent and potential as a top-class racehorse. His performance in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes solidified his reputation even further.

5. What factors will influence the decision regarding Messier’s future races?

Baffert stated that the decision on Messier’s next race will depend on the performance and readiness of his other horses. Baffert evaluates each horse individually to determine the most suitable and competitive opportunity for them.

Picture of Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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