Our Clients:

Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

May 2, 2024 10:08 am

Fierceness, Sierra Leone lead the pack entering 150th Kentucky Derby

Sierra Leone

For the second year in a row, the morning line favorite in the Kentucky Derby comes from the stable of Mike Repole. This time, Repole is counting on his prized colt, Fierceness, to not just make it to the starting gate but deliver the long-time owner his first victory.

Fierceness is the most accomplished of the 20 3-year-olds that will go to post Saturday in the 150th running of the most prestigious horse race in the United States. Installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite, the homebred son of City of Light was last seen posting an impressive 13 1/2-length win in the Florida Derby in late March.

A winner in three of his five career starts, Fierceness was named Champion 2-year Male of the Year in 2023, based largely upon his 6 1/4-length win in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. His lone hiccup this year came in the Holy Bull Stakes in February where he faded to a third-place finish.

Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velasquez, Fierceness will be the eighth colt to go to post in the Repole Stables silks, whose orange and blue color scheme is a nod to the New York Mets. He would have been the ninth had Forte not been scratched on the morning of last year’s race by Churchill Downs track veterinarians due to a bruised right hoof.

Repole, whose best finish in the Derby to date has been fifth, feels fortunate to be in this position again.

“There’s 20,000 foals born every year, so the Derby favorite was one out of 20,000 and now you come back a year later and are one out of 20,000 again,” he said. “This is like the greatest luck in the world. Maybe it was meant to be.”

A colt with tactical speed, Fierceness may not see his main rival, Sierra Leone, until the deep stretch.

Second choice in the morning line at 3-1, Sierra Leone is a deep closer who passed eight of his nine rivals en route to a 1 1/2-length win in the Blue Grass Stakes in his most recent start. Sierra Leone, who has finished no worse than second in his four career starts, will be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione at Churchill Downs.

Fierceness will break from post position 17, which is the only post to never yield a Derby winner to date. Sierra Leone will break well inside of Fierceness from the No. 2 hole — potentially presenting a problem as he will be among the first in the large field to load.

In the Blue Grass, Sierra Leone resisted going into the gate for several minutes. Trainer Chad Brown placed the blame partly on the large crowd at Keeneland that day. With more than 150,000 expected in Louisville on Saturday, three times the Keeneland crowd, Brown added schooling sessions to Sierra Leone’s Derby week prep.

“He’s visited the gate twice this week and did really well,” Brown said.

Catching Freedom is the only other horse with early odds under 10-1. On the strength of his one-length victory in the Louisiana Derby, the son of Constitution sits at 8-1. Catching Freedom is trained by Brad Cox, who on Tuesday scratched Encino from the Derby field, allowing also eligible Epic Ride to draw in.

This year’s Derby field is distinguished by the presence of multiple Japanese-bred colts. Forever Young earned his way into the field after his win in the UAE Derby while T O Password qualified by accumulating the most points in the four-race Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby series. Both colts are making their North American racing debuts.

–Tim Dwyer, Field Level Media

You may also like

Preakness
May 18, 2024 7:54 pm

Seize the Grey wins in muddy Preakness

Seize the Grey led gate to wire, holding off a charge from Mystik Dan to capture the 149th Preakness Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Over a…

Gun Song
May 17, 2024 6:29 pm

Favored Gun Song flexes dominance in Black-Eyed Susan triumph

Jockey John Velazquez and favorite Gun Song stalked a pace-setting long shot through leisurely early fractions, drew even with her straightening for home and pulled away for an impressive victory…

bob baffert
May 17, 2024 10:55 am

Bob Baffert is back, seeking ninth Preakness amid controversies

BALTIMORE — There is little doubt that Bob Baffert is one of the most accomplished horse trainers in North American history. He is only one of two trainers in the…

More Other News

Preakness
May 18, 2024 7:54 pm

Seize the Grey wins in muddy Preakness

Seize the Grey led gate to wire, holding off a charge from Mystik Dan to capture the 149th Preakness Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Over a…

Gun Song
May 17, 2024 6:29 pm

Favored Gun Song flexes dominance in Black-Eyed Susan triumph

bob baffert
May 17, 2024 10:55 am

Bob Baffert is back, seeking ninth Preakness amid controversies

Mystik Dan
May 16, 2024 5:10 pm

Rain dance? Wet track on Mystik Dan’s Preakness wish list

Mystik Dan
May 16, 2024 11:07 am

Mystik Dan seeing Triple as path opens at Preakness

Read all
fb-post
advertisment
title-icon

Upcoming events

See all odds