Gestut Brummerhof's homebred Messi stalked the pace early, then held off all the closers by 2 1/2 lengths in Sunday's Grade 2 Sky Classic to score his second graded stakes victory. The 6-year-old son of New Approach covered 10 furlongs over Woodbine's firm turf course in 2:01.98 under Edgar Prado for trainer Graham Motion.
“It seemed there wasn't much speed in the race. The only speed was the horse in front (Fixador), first time with blinkers,” said Prado. “We traveled in second all the way and hoped to come home strong. He was doing everything so easy. He had plenty left in the stretch.”
Fixador was very sharp out of the gate and went straight to the lead, so Prado and Messi settled in just off his flank to track the early pace. Fixador led through very steady early fractions of :26.89 and :50.30, while Messi stayed relaxed in second. The three-wide Don Camillo alternated between pressing the leaders and backing off a bit, while Button Down and Are You Kidding Me moved together in behind the leaders. Up With The Birds was last early on. Approaching the final turn, Messi turned up on the pressure on Fixador, who folded before the top of the stretch.
At the head of the lane Messi held the lead just slightly over a charging Don Camillo. The soft early fractions allowed Messi to continue on down the lane, holding off the late charges of Up With The Birds, Are You Kidding Me and Button Down. At the wire, Messi still held a 2 1/2-length advantage over Are You Kidding Me along the inside rail. Up With The Bird had to settle for third, and Button Down finished fourth.
“I really like this horse and most of his disappointing races I have a pretty good explanation for. I thought he ran well last time at Arlington,” said Motion. “We caught a really soft turf course at Churchill (Grade 3 River City Handicap, Nov. 26) last year and he got a clod in his eye and had some pretty serious surgery. He had the winter off and we saved the eye and he's back better than ever.”
Bred in Germany, Messi took down his first graded stake in October of last year at Belmont Park. The gelding now boasts a career record of 6-5-2 from 20 starts, with earnings of over $450,000.
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