2024 Kentucky Derby Contenders: FIERCENESS

The 150th Kentucky Derby (G1) is Saturday, May 4, at Churchill Downs, offering a record $5 million purse. The field is limited to 20 starters based on Derby qualifying points from dozens of prep races. 



The result of the Kentucky Derby may very well depend on how Fierceness fares at the start.

A post position that allows the Florida Derby winner to break cleanly and move near the front of a huge field would be most beneficial. Any shuffling or bumping early on could jeopardize Fierceness’s chance of winning the Run for the Roses, as his past performances show.

In three eye-opening victories, his debut at Saratoga, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Florida Derby, he took charge early and won with authority. In his two losses, the Champagne (seventh) and the Holy Bull (third), he had trouble at the start and was unable to recover.

Owner Mike Repole called his colt’s record-setting 13 ½-length win in the Florida Derby “surreal.”

The Repole-Todd Pletcher-John Velazquez team has been one of the most productive for years, but there’s been some tough times in the Derby.

Last year, Repole-owned, Pletcher-trained Forte won the Florida Derby, was the expected favorite, but was scratched the morning of the race with a slight injury.

In 2011, Uncle Mo (Repole-Pletcher-Velazquez) was the likely second choice but was scratched the morning of the race with a gastrointestinal issue.

In 2021, Velazquez finished first aboard Medina Spirit, but the Bob Baffert-trainee was disqualified for a race-day medication overage.

Fierceness worked 4 furlongs in 50.28 seconds at Palm Beach Downs on April 12, his first timed breeze since the Florida Derby. Velazquez was aboard.


2024 Kentucky Derby Contenders Odds and Post Position: Fierceness

Betting advice: A clean break on or near the lead gives Derby favorite a strong chance at victory. Winner, winner.

Post position: 16

Odds: 5-2

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Repole Stable (Mike Repole)

Career record: 5-3-0-1

Career earnings: $1,703,850

Most recent race: Florida Derby, March 30, (1st)

Top Equibase speed figure: 110

Pedigree: City of Light-Nonna Bella, by Stay Thirsty

Color: Bay

Running style: Frontrunner

Notes: Fierceness could become the third BC Juvenile winner to go on and win the Derby; the others are Street Sense (2006-07) and Nyquist (2015-16) … Nonna Bella, the dam of Fierceness and owned by Repole, was 2-0-1 in five career starts from 2017-18. Both of her wins came at Gulfstream Park … Velazquez’s three Derby winners all started with the letter A: Animal Kingdom (2011); Always Dreaming (2017); and Authentic (2020) … Fierceness would give Pletcher a record-extending 65th Derby starter.

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