The Horse Race Insider is a privately owned magazine. All copyrights reserved. “Bet with your head, not over it.”

The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Edited Gulfstream Staff Release – Repole Stable’s Fierceness, who established himself as the early favorite for the May 4 Kentucky Derby (G1) with a record-breaking triumph in the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) March 30 at Gulfstream Park, returned to the work tab at Palm Beach Downs Friday morning with an ‘easy’ four-furlong breeze under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.

The son of City of Light’s first workout since his 13 ½-length Curlin Florida Derby romp was timed in 50.17 seconds while breezing in company with graded-stakes winner Agate Road.

            “He’s been great since the Florida Derby. His energy level is good. He’s seemed to take the race really well,” Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said. “He had a nice easy breeze this morning and was moving great. Really, I couldn’t be happier with him.”


            Pletcher has mapped out a tentative training schedule to give Fierceness his best chance of winning the first leg of the Triple Crown at Churchill Downs.

            “He’ll get his next work here at Palm Beach Downs and then we’ll make a decision when to ship to Churchill. We have to be there at 11.a.m. on the Saturday before, so there’s a good chance we’ll have our final breeze at Churchill, but I want to keep the window open if I don’t like the way the weather is looking in Kentucky,” Pletcher said. “Right now, I’m happy we’ve stayed where we are. We’ve had really great, great weather. It hasn’t been too hot. The mornings have been nice and cool. We’ve had minimal rain, just enough to keep the track good. We haven’t had to battle some of the conditions that are going on in Kentucky at the moment. We’ll monitor it and call an audible if we have to.”

            Fierceness, who won the Eclipse Award as the 2023 champion 2-year-old male after scoring a 6 ¼ victory in the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita, got off to a disappointing start of his 2024 campaign with a third-place finish behind Hades in the Feb. 3 Holy Bull (G3) as the 1-5 favorite. The Repole homebred, who had a troubled start and a wide trip in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull, rebounded in spectacular fashion, taking complete control at the start of the 1 1/8-mile Curlin Florida Derby and cruising to a dominant victory.

            “We’ve always had a lot of confidence in his ability. We were disappointed by the outcome of the Holy Bull, but we hadn’t lost confidence in the horse. The way he trained up to the Florida Derby, we expected a good performance, but that was kind of a ‘wow’ performance,” Pletcher said.

            Fierceness certainly set a high standard for himself heading into the Derby by producing such a standout performance in the Curlin Florida Derby.

            “I don’t think he’d need a better one, just similar. What can you do? He ran that well. It didn’t seem to be a stressful race on him. He came to the wire with his ears pricked. Johnny never seemingly asked him at any point,” Pletcher said. “Of course, you’re concerned that he’ll not run back to the same race, but all we can focus on is keeping him happy and healthy and check all the boxes that we can. Then, we have to hope, like everyone else, that we get away clean and get a good trip.”

            Fierceness provided Pletcher with his record eighth Curlin Florida Derby while posting the largest winning margin in the 73-year history of Triple Crown prep, eclipsing Empire Maker’s old record of 9 ¾ lengths set in 2003. He joined Pletcher’s previous Curlin Florida Derby winners, Forte (2023), Known Agenda (2021), Audible (2018), Always Dreaming (2017), Materiality (2015), Constitution (2014), and Quality Road (2009).

            “It doesn’t get old. It’s exciting. Also, it’s an anxious three more weeks. We’ve had two really good weeks since the Florida Derby and now, like everyone else, we hope everything continues to stay on course,” said Pletcher, who saddled Always Dreaming for a Kentucky Derby victory.

Facebook Share
Twitter Share
LinkedIn Share

⚠ Before you comment

Our staff likes nothing better than to engage with the HRI Faithful and provide a forum for interaction on horseracing and sports. In that spirit, please be kind and reasonable; keep the language clean, and the tone civil. Comments from those who cannot comply will be deleted. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *