All the talk is about Messier in the Santa Anita Derby, who might have scared off the opposition.
Only six runners line up in the $750,000 Kentucky Derby lead-up race, which is surprising. However, with Messier in the field, they might be running for second.
Forbidden Kingdom is the main challenger and set to provide the horse racing betting favorite with a stiff challenge.
It’s All About Messier
Messier moved to the second line of betting for Kentucky Derby betting markets after a devastating 15-length win in the Robert B. Lewis.
The win puts the rest of the Santa Anita Derby on notice, but he needs to perform well after being with Bob Baffert.
Under Baffert’s care, he wasn’t able to get any Derby points, so it’s a big contest for the son of Empire Maker. However, current trainer Tim Yakteen is pleased by his work.
“He worked lights out,” Yakteen told Blood Horse. “We had Johnny (Velazquez) work him and he’ll ride him in the Santa Anita Derby. He gave us a thumbs up. The horse looked great, although he ended up with some unexpected company. We almost had a little training race out there.”
The 3-year-old has had five starts for three wins and two-second placings. Although beaten in the Los Alamitos Futurity by Slow Down Andy, he progressed significantly when winning the Robert B. Lewis.
It was an incredible performance and we’re not surprised he has come up the odds-on favorite.
He will be challenged by Forbidden Kingdom, but he demands attention.
Forbidden Kingdom Shooting for Trifecta
It’s rare for a winner of the San Vicente Stakes and San Felipe Stakes not to be favored to win the Santa Anita Derby.
Forbidden Kingdom enters this race as the second elect with betting online markets despite some stellar recent form.
The Richard Mandella-trained colt kicked away for a professional win at Santa Anita and the 1-1 second favorite will test Messier.
His 5¾-length win sees the colt positioned to win on Saturday and in the Kentucky Derby. His recent work at Santa Anita is a good sign.
“This has turned into a little bit of a routine with Richard and this horse in particular as we’ve started to extend the distance of his races,” said Joe Moran, West Coast racing manager for MyRacehorse, which owns the colt in partnership with Spendthrift Farm.
“This week in the blowout we did catch some company; he left from the quarter pole and a horse snuck inside of us. It did worry me for a second because he is aggressive and will lock onto another horse. When that company came along the inside I was afraid he was going to take off, but Nestor was able to keep him relaxed.”
We expect to see Messier and Forbidden Kingdom lock horns at the top of the stretch, but Forbidden Kingdom might need to find a length to keep in touch with Messier.
Taiba Attracts Support
Stablemate to favorite Messier is Taiba, who won on debut at Santa Anita.
The Yakteen-trained colt showed good speed on debut and he has since worked well in preparation for the Santa Anita Derby.
“Obviously, Taiba was very impressive in his debut,” said Yakteen. “He has been training very forwardly.
“He breezed three-eighths (April 6 in :37 under exercise rider Baltazar Contreras), and it gave him his final little prep for the weekend. It’s going to be a bit of an ask to go from a maiden three-quarter to a mile and an eighth in a grade 1 race. But he has impressed very much in the morning.”
He is currently on the third line of betting at 4-1, which is a solid move for a one-race winner. He could be the new horse on the scene and upset the apple cart.
Any late betting moves would be good to see. He has untapped potential and his odds would firm dramatically for the Kentucky Derby if he was to win.