10/14/2015 2:41PM

Messi shoots and scores


MESSI overcame a slow early pace to defeat a solid field of turf performers in last Saturday's Grade 3 Knickerbocker Stakes going nine furlongs at Belmont.

Trained by Graham Motion, Messi was reserved in last by jockey John Velazquez while longshot pacesetter CAGE FIGHTER, the recent winner of the $194,000 PTHA President's Cup at Parx, sailed along through fractions of 25.38 and 50.38. Cage Fighter picked up the pace on the final turn, completed six furlongs in 1:14.06 and seemed fresh as a daisy at that juncture. Meanwhile, Velazquez guided Messi to the outside with plenty of work still to do.

Messi angled four wide into the stretch and gave an unwavering late kick to get up by a nose over a game Cage Fighter. Others left behind Messi included Grade 1 winner MR. SPEAKER, Grade 2 winners BLINGO and WAR DANCER, and Grade 3 winners MIDDLEBURG and LEGENDARY. Messi recorded an official final time of 1:49.70, good enough for a 99 Beyer Speed Figure. According to Trakus, Messi completed his final eighth in 11.80.

Velazquez was understandably pleased by the effort. "When he ran for the first time at Belmont he was last at the quarter pole and he came running," Johnny V. remarked to track publicity following the Knickerbocker. "Going a little shorter today I was a little worried about it, but they were going so slow and he was pulling all the way to the half-mile pole. I got stopped at the half-mile pole and I thought it would be hard not to let him go and catch up. Once he got going - at the quarter-mile pole - it took him a little bit to get going, but once he switched [leads] down the lane I thought he was going to get there. It was little by little, but he had a nice kick coming home."

A homebred owned by Gestut Brummerhof, Messi was foaled in Germany on April 10, 2010. He is by New Approach, a five-time Group 1 winner on turf in England and Ireland at distances ranging from 7 furlongs to 1 1/2 miles. New Approach's best progeny include Grade 1 winners Dawn Approach, Talent, May's Dream and Sultanina.

Messi's dam, Messina (by Dashing Blade), has also foaled Group 2 turf sprint winner McCartney, Group 3-placed turf router Mano Diao and stakes-placed turf router Madonna.

Messi was consigned to a yearling sale overseas and was a $114,088 RNA. He had limited success racing in Germany for trainer Paul Martin Harley, winning two of 12 starts. Sent to Motion's yard, Messi turned things around with the addition of Lasix. He generated quite a bit of buzz following his first two starts in North America, visually-impressive wins against optional claiming competition at 10 furlongs and 11 furlongs, respectively.

Those wins led to an opportunity in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga. Bet down to 6 to 1, Messi didn't do much, finishing 18 3/4 lengths behind the extremely talented FLINTSHIRE.

Perhaps Messi appreciated the slight cutback in distance and major drop in class last weekend. He should be followed at distances ranging from 9-11 furlongs on turf and it will be very interesting to see what plans Motion has for Messi's immediate future.


Here are the WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 10/6/15 to 10/12/15:

1. AGELESS - 99 - Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 9Oct15-9KEE
1. MESSI (GER) - 99 - Knickerbocker Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 10Oct15-9B
3. HER EMMYNENCY - 98 - Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 10Oct15-9KEE
3. SLIP BY - 98 - OC 40k/N3X -N - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 10Oct15-8LRL
5. CRACKERJACK JONES - 97 - Alw 19500 - 1 Mile - 8Oct15-7FL
6. EAGLE - 96 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 11Oct15-8KEE
6. UNION JACKSON - 96 - Md Sp Wt 56k - 6 Furlongs - 10Oct15-5KEE
8. CHUBBLE MAKER - 95 - Alw 54744N1X - 6 Furlongs - 11Oct15-4PRX
8. TWOCUBANBROTHERSU - 95 - Alw 7500s - 1 1/16 Miles - 10Oct15-3LRL
10. BEANTOWN SAINT - 93 - OC 25k/N2X -N - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 11Oct15-7PRX
10. CHUBLICIOUS - 93 - OC 25k/N2X -N - 6 Furlongs - 11Oct15-8PRX
10. CLASSIC GIACNROLL - 93 - OC 40k/N3X -N - 1 Mile - 10Oct15-8PRX
10. STREET STRATEGY - 93 - OC 100k/N$Y -N - 1 Mile - 9Oct15-7KEE
14. BRIMSTONED - 92 - OC 20k/N1X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 10Oct15-9SA
14. FOREST CHATTER - 92 - California Flag Handicap - About 6 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - 12Oct15-4SA
14. NEVER ENDS - 92 - OC 40k/N1X -N - 1 1/8 Miles - 9Oct15-2SA
14. OCEAN KNIGHT - 92 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - 9Oct15-8BEL
14. SPEEDING COMET - 92 - Alw 77000N1X - 7 Furlongs (Turf) - 11Oct15-8BEL
19. KATIE'S KISS - 91 - Alw 50000NC - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 10Oct15-5GPW
19. RELOAD - 91 - OC 80k/C -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - 10Oct15-8BEL
19. ROBILLARD - 91 - Alw 59971N2X - 1 Mile (Turf) - 7Oct15-4KEE
22. BEAT OF THE DRUM (IRE) - 90 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 9Oct15-7SA
22. MACRO ACCESS (ARG) - 90 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 Mile (Turf) - 12Oct15-8SA
22. PURELY GIVEN - 90 - OC 30k/N$Y -N - 6 Furlongs - 10Oct15-3HAW
25. CHOCTAW CHUCK - 89 - OC 62k/N3X - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 6Oct15-5PID
25. CONTROL STAKE - 89 - Clm 50000B - 6 Furlongs - 10Oct15-1KEE
25. LIEUTENANT SEANY O - 89 - Alw 77000N1X - 1 1/16 Miles - 10Oct15-3BEL
25. PIN AND WIN - 89 - Clm 16000N2L - 1 Mile - 11Oct15-4BEL
25. UGOTTAHAVEHEART - 89 - Alw 33300N1X - 6 Furlongs - 10Oct15-6PEN

*The lifetime past performances for Ageless and Messi are available at the bottom of this blog post.


Video stakes analyses for many of the weekend's major stakes races can be found later this week at http://www.drf.com/videos

You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.

I'll be joined by Matt Bernier and Mike Beer this Saturday at 3pm ET on live.drf.com. We will cover Belmont, Keeneland, Laurel, Santa Anita and more.


Congrats to Ed Kay for finishing first in the most recent HandiGambling event.

Ed recommended Saturday's second race at Belmont for this week's exercise.


SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to streamline all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...

With so many new people attending Dan's Formblog we thought it would be a good time to update the Handigambling Guidelines and Rules as we go forward in 2014.

Let's remember WHY we began the HandiGambling races in the first place. The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses and why we're betting them the way we are. We are not asking for a novel but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.


Please start your post with  HG or HANDIGAMBLING to better recognize and find your entry.

-  You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose and that is available for that HG race.
Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualified.

- Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF THE POST.  Remember that posts may start as 'anonymous' or an 'alternate name'. You MUST sign yourself at the end (even if it is the same) This enables the scorekeeper to recognize you .

- (1) ONE ENTRY per person for the Handigambling contest. If you have multiple email addresses, use just ONE for contest purposes.  Multiple entries will be cause for disqualification.

- Separate your analysis from the wager and use the horses # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.

-In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. Dan reserves the right to approve or deny any entries.

- The winner will receive a "60-Card Quarterly Formulator Past Performance Plan"

As an example :

HG 2014
The speed in this race goes to  horses # 1, 4 ,6 ..Ennie , Meenie, and Mo
Since it's a sprint I don't see any closers catching them.. like # 9 Miney.
I think trainer Groucho with the #6 Mo has the best stats in this condition, route to sprint.. just a gut feeling at large odds ML 20-1

HG wager
50$ Ex box 1-6
total $100

Thanks Dan!




Copy of Formblog Keeneland MSW 10-10-15.xls16.83 KB
HGBEL.pdf162.25 KB
CM Vongole More than 1 year ago
Molesap, Sounds like a good idea. Can't argue with taking a small stab... maybe singling/semi-singling the 30-1 is worth considering. It will keep costs down (that's one of the larger fields) and will certainly separate you from the pack if you connect. In a sequence like that, any horse you like that will eliminate 95% is great. BC Advance: I can't purchase the Saturday Advance alone without buying the entire package. That's ridiculous. As is the case with everything else at the track these days, horseplayers continue to get less for more.
Professor Molesap More than 1 year ago
C I thought that is what you might say given you were not too excited about it. It makes sense. I looked at the fields and was not that interested but thought I might take a small swing. One horse I did like a bit based on odds was Shortstormcoming (30/1) who had a decent debut relatively and Munnings has been an under the radar turf sire. Dam has had a grass winner as well. Bernard I know it is way too early, but I am hoping (OK really I should use expecting) a rundown of the Euros when we get closer to the cup. Annie, Do you have access now? I have had the PP since 10:00 this morning CA time. I have not looked at them since I had to work all day. I would LOVE to see some Breeder's Cup discussion and see what people think. I'll start some quick ones: What about Beholder spiking a fever? She was not on my short list and will not make it over for sure. She reportedly had antibiotics. What Americans have the best shot in the turf? Looks like the Europeans have a huge advantage. Can anyone touch Songbird in the Juvenile fillies? She looks to be head and shoulder above everyone else to me, but can a wickedly fast pace do her in?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dick W, He must have heard Whacky screaming. :) Annie
Mac930My More than 1 year ago
Well, Dick W, the #12 let him through thankfully. He still almost got caught. Look at who was riding the 2nd and 3rd place runners. Put +$2600 in my pocket for a shot at the pick 6 tomorrow. .. Good luck Whackymacky Out!
Dick Wright More than 1 year ago
Whacky Well the same jock gave you the same ride in the 9th and got you a nice win :-) Congrats on that one ! Dick W
Mac930My More than 1 year ago
When are these young jockeys going to learn that when you are loaded for bear turning for home on the turf, GET THE HELL OFF THE RAIL AND SWING WIDE.!!! What a brutal ride in race 6 on the #2 by Cancel. Best by far and gets blocked for the entire stretch! Gets beat by a 33-1 shot and knocks me out of the pick 4...Argh..... Whackymacky Out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KNM, Yes, NAR was lucky with his first MKB. I'm glad he has been enjoying being a racehorse "owner". :) Tell him good luck from me. Annie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
They really shouldn't say access now, if you can't actually access the BC PPs NOW. LOL! I guess I am really chomping at the bit right now. Hopefully later today? Annie
Mac930My More than 1 year ago
Belmont Late plays. $300 win // $600 place Race 6. #2 Bluegrass Rye Race 7 #5 Slam Chowder Race 8. #5 Rectify Race 9. #3 Fredaq Good Luck Whackymacky Out!
Mac930My More than 1 year ago
Belmont Late pick 4. 50 cent play. 10 x $40 = $400 1,2,5,6,8 // 2,5, // 5,7 // 3,7,8,11 5×2×2×4 = $40 ×10 = $400 Good luck Whackymacky Out!