Kentucky Derby Pedigree profile: Messier

April 18th, 2022

Robert B. Lewis S. (G3) winner and Santa Anita Derby (G1) runner-up Messier has shown flashes of serious talent and potential on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. And rest assured, he has the pedigree to be a serious player in the spring classics.

From top to bottom, Messier’s pedigree is stacked with Triple Crown-caliber bloodlines. It all starts with his sire, Empire Maker. Winner of the Belmont S. (G1) and runner-up in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Empire Maker is a son of Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled, whose grandsire—Mr. Prospector—has shaped modern American pedigrees like few stallions before or since.

Case in point? Since 1990, male-line descendants of Mr. Prospector have won 14 Kentucky Derbys, 16 editions of the Preakness S. (G1), and 15 renewals of the Belmont. In other words, they’ve won 45 of the 96 classics contested since 1990, or 47%.

Empire Maker has contributed four of those wins through his sons Pioneerof the Nile and Bodemeister, both runners-up in the Kentucky Derby. Pioneerof the Nile is the sire of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, while Bodemeister is responsible for Kentucky Derby hero Always Dreaming.

Now here’s the amazing part—Messier actually has multiple doses of Mr. Prospector in his pedigree. Messier’s dam, the two-time stakes-winning route runner Checkered Past, is a daughter of Mr. Prospector’s Grade 1-winning son Smart Strike.

Smart Strike has established a lasting legacy of his own. A two-time leading sire in North America, Smart Strike counts Preakness winners Curlin (a two-time Horse of the Year) and Lookin At Lucky (a two-time champion) among his most successful runners. Curlin, in turn, has sired Belmont winner Palace Malice and Preakness hero Exaggerator, while Lookin At Lucky is responsible for Kentucky Derby winner Country House.

But wait—there’s more! Smart Strike has proven influential as a broodmare sire. In addition to Messier, Smart Strike’s daughters have foaled Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, Preakness runner-up First Dude, and Kentucky Derby third-place finish Dullahan, to list just a few notable names.

For good measure, Checkered Past’s dam is Catch the Flag, a daughter of legendary Belmont winner A.P. Indy. Known as a source of stamina, A.P. Indy is the sire of Preakness winner Bernardini and Belmont heroine Rags to Riches, as well as the grandsire of Tapit, a three-time leading sire responsible for Belmont winners Tonalist, Creator, Tapwrit, and Essential Quality.

Have we name-dropped enough classic winners yet? The takeaway (if it isn’t obvious already) is the fact Messier’s pedigree contains an abundance of proven Triple Crown-caliber bloodlines. If Messier doesn’t peak when racing classic distances during the spring of his sophomore season, there will have to be an explanation aside from his pedigree.

Check out these other Kentucky Derby pedigree profiles
on TwinSpires