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Horse named after Messier to compete in Kentucky Derby

Three-year-old colt has 7-1 odds to win at Churchill Downs on Saturday

by Anna Kulesa @akulesa_ / NHL.com Staff Writer

If this horse could talk would it guarantee a victory?

A three-year-old colt named after Hockey Hall of Famer Mark Messier is set to compete in the 2022 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday.

The Canada-bred horse is owned by Tom Ryan and his company, SF Bloodstock/SF Racing LLC. His wife Katie's NHL ties inspired the hockey-related name.

Katie Ryan's father is Pat Hughes, a former NHL forward who played 10 seasons for the Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues and Hartford Whalers. Her uncle is Mark Napier, a former forward who played 11 NHL seasons for the Oilers, Canadiens, Sabres and Minnesota North Stars.

Napier and Hughes were both teammates of Messier on the Oilers when they won the Stanley Cup in 1985. Hughes was also on the team that won the championship in 1984. Napier played for the Oilers' 1987 championship team and also won the Cup with the Canadiens in 1978.

Ryan got the idea to name the horse after the six-time Stanley Cup Champion when he attended an Oilers reunion with his father-in-law and Napier.

"We spent time with all the great players from that era," Ryan told The Sporting News. "Not long after, I spoke to my father-in-law about naming a horse after Messier. His comment at the time was: 'If you're going to do it, get it right!' So far, the horse is holding down his end of the bargain. He's extremely talented, just like his namesake."

After winning five Cup titles in Edmonton, Messier went on to lead the New York Rangers the championship in 1994, ending a 54-year drought for the team. He famously guaranteed a victory in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New Jersey Devils.

The odds for Messier (the horse) to win the Derby are 7-1.

If the colt proves to truly be like his namesake, he should win plenty of titles.

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