By Scott Taylor (@staylorsports)
Yes, it’s true. There is a favourite in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby named Messier and yes, he’s named after the legendary hockey star.
Messier, the only Canadian-bred colt in the field, will carry the colours of Ontario’s Sam-Son Farm into the 148th running of the Run for the Roses. He will also take a run at becoming the third Canadian-bred to win the Derby, following the hoof-steps of Northern Dancer in 1964 and Sunny’s Halo in 1983.
Here is the Messier story: The horse is owned by SF Bloodstock/SF Racing LLC, who’s managing partner is Tom Ryan. Ryan’s father-in-law is Pat Hughes and his wife’s uncle is Mark Napier. Both Napier and Hughes played with Messier on the Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup-winning team in 1985.
Ryan met with Messier a number of years ago at an Oilers reunion and promised his former teammate that the best-looking foal born in 2020 would be named Messier. The magnificent bay colt that is the third-favourite in Saturday’s big race (8-1) will be ridden at Churchill Downs in Louisville by three-time Derby champion John Velazquez.
Saturday’s favourite is Zandon at 3-1 while Epicenter is next at 7-2. Messier is 8-1 while Mo Donegal is 10-1 and Taiba is 12-1. The race will go to post around 5:57 CDT, but on both Friday and Saturday, it will be a Derby Day party right here at Winnipeg’s Assiniboia Downs.
Friday is Kentucky Oaks Day as the fillies head to post for the biggest three-year-old race of the year for the distaff set. We love Nest at 5-2 in that one. The first post each day is 9:30 a.m. and Assiniboia Downs will open at a special time of 9 a.m. both days.
For those who have an hpibet.com account, you’ll get 3 per cent cashback on all eligible wagering on Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 7. Note that the minimum wager is $100.
There will be free Churchill programs and Daily Racing Forms at the track and at off-track locations (Quest Inn, Canad Inns Windsor Park, Green Brier and Rookies) plus draws for Kentucky Derby glasses at the Downs and at off-track locations and if you buy a Raz Lemonade ($9.95) on Saturday, you’ll receive a complimentary Kentucky Derby glass while supplies last.
Our money is on Messier because we’re Canadians, but we’ll likely box a Triactor with Zandon, Epicenter and our favourite 12-1 longshot, Taiba, who beat Messier in the Santa Anita Derby. If you’re looking for something to pay big, take a shot at Jeff Ruby Steaks winner Tiz the Bomb.
Our Super Handicapper, the Downs Insider, will take over from here. See you at the track this weekend.
2022 Kentucky Derby Field — Post, Horse, Morning-Line Odds and Thoughts from the Assiniboia Downs Insider.
- Mo Donegal (10-1) Showed great character winning Wood Memorial. Overlay.
- Happy Jack (30-1) Well beaten in Santa Anita Derby. Needs major improvement.
- Epicenter (7-2) Should make the first run at the pacesetters. Logical contender.
- Summer Is Tomorrow (30-1) UAE Derby runner-up takes a massive step up in class.
- Smile Happy (20-1) Second best Blue Grass Stakes. Just a touch below the best here.
- Messier (8-1) No match for Taiba in Santa Anita Derby, but best puts him close.
- Crown Pride (20-1) Japanese runner has been working lights out. Overlay chance.
- Charge It (20-1) Trouble at the start of Florida Derby. Could improve, but…
- Tiz the Bomb (30-1) Jeff Ruby Steaks winner could be a longshot for Superfectas.
- Zandon (3-1) Showed good determination to win Blue Grass Stakes. Contender.
- Pioneer of Medina (30-1) Seems a notch below the best in here but will try.
- Taiba (12-1) Does this talented Santa Anita Derby winner have enough seasoning?
- Simplification (20-1) Should be close early, but these are too tough late.
- Barber Road (30-1) A solid grinder who definitely needs to be included in Superfectas.
- White Abarrio (10-1) Florida Derby winner should get a decent trip at a nice price.
- Cyberknife (20-1) May be even better than he looked winning Arkansas Derby.
- Classic Causeway (30-1) What happened in Florida Derby? Can’t play him off that.
- Tawny Port (30-1) Moves in with the big boys now. Guessing game on class raise.
- Zozos (20-1) Second best to Epicenter in Louisiana Derby. Pace presser at a price.
- Ethereal Road (30-1) Hall of Fame trainer. Longshot for Superfectas.
AE – Rich Strike (30-1) These are much better than what he has been facing.
AE – Rattle N Roll (30-1) Hasn’t shown much lately. Would need a total pace meltdown.