Graham Motion bid goodbye to stable star Main Sequence in the wake of a career-ending injury, but the affable Englishman just might have another to pick up the baton. Gestut Brummerhof’s homebred Messi made it two-for-two in the United States with a convincing victory in Thursday’s 6TH race at Saratoga, prompting thoughts of an imminent class hike into graded company.
A German-bred son of New Approach (what’s not to love about that?), Messi was unable to make an impact in stakes in his homeland, but he looks more than ready for bigger assignments here. The five-year-old gelding overcame an early stumble to capture his American debut July 2 at Belmont Park.
Accordingly dispatched as the 4-5 favorite at the Spa, Messi turned in an even more taking performance. He traveled smoothly throughout, and with John Velazquez exuding confidence, he powered two lengths clear. Messi sped his final eighth in :11.88 to complete 1 3/8 miles on the firm inner turf in 2:13.92.
Another to note coming out of this race is Montclair. Given the slow early pace, the Christophe Clement trainee ran better than his fourth-place finish implies. He was given too much to do while lollygagging as many as 11 lengths back, but made up some ground late to be beaten a total of five lengths. Montclair, who had been a fast-finishing second in his U.S. bow in the Cape Henlopen, needs to work his way into position sooner.
But Thursday was all about Messi. A half-brother to Group 2 winner McCartney, he is out of the winning Dashing Blade mare Messina, from the further family of the superb sire Monsun. Rival Montclair hails from this same prolific “M” family.