BY GULFSTREAM PARK PRESS OFFICE
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL—Repole Stable’s Fierceness, the favorite to be named champion 2-year-old male of 2023 following his dominant victory in the Grade 1 FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile presented by TAA, remains on track to make his sophomore debut in the $250,000 Holy Bull (G3) Feb. 3 at Gulfstream Park.
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher gave the homebred son of 2018 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) and 2019 Pegasus World Cup (G1)-winner City of Light his second work of the new year Saturday at Palm Beach Downs, where he breezed in 1:01.17.
“He worked super this morning and everything is going according to plan, so far,” Pletcher said. “We’re targeting the Holy Bull.”
The mile-and-a-sixteenth Holy Bull is the next stakes for 3-year-olds on Gulfstream’s Road to the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) to be run on March 30. In between is the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2), also at eight-and-a-half furlongs and will be run March 2.
Pletcher debuted 2022 Juvenile winner and Eclipse champion Forte, co-owned by Repole and St. Elias Stable, in last year’s Fountain of Youth, a victory that preluded his triumph in the Florida Derby. Forte ran five times as a 2-year-old, also winning the Hopeful (G1) and Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1).
Fierceness raced three times as a 2-year-old, capturing his unveiling last August at Saratoga prior to a perplexing seventh behind winner Timberlake in the Champagne (G1) before bouncing back with a six-and-a-quarter-length romp at odds of 16-1 in the Nov. 3 Juvenile at Santa Anita.
“Last year, Forte needed a little bit of time after the Breeders’ Cup and in Fierceness’ case he’d had three races, he was fresh, he was doing well. We liked not having to let him down totally,” Pletcher said.
“We like the little bit of space to the Florida Derby and we like the five weeks from the Florida Derby to Kentucky,” he added. “We’ve still got a long way to go, but so far it’s going according to plan.”
Before his racing career began, Fierceness received is early training at Ocala Stud.
Sunday’s Rainbow 6 Gross Jackpot Pool Guaranteed at $400,000
The 20¢ Rainbow 6 gross jackpot pool will be guaranteed at $400,000 Sunday’s program at Gulfstream Park.
The popular multi-race wager has gone unsolved for 10 consecutive racing days following a mandatory payout Dec. 30.
Sunday’s Rainbow 6 sequence will span fifth through the tenth races, headlined and kicked off in Race 5 by the Sunshine Filly & Mare Turf, a mile turf stakes for Florida-bred fillies and mares. Multiple graded stakes-placed Sweet Dani Girl, who is slated to make her first start for trainer Christophe Clement since being purchased at the Keeneland November sale, is rated as the 4-5 morning-line favorite. Eddie Plesa-trained Time Passage brings a four-race winning streak into the Sunshine Filly & Mare Turf.
A six-furlong maiden special weight test for 3-year-olds on the main track follows in the sixth race. Bedazzle ‘Em is set to make his first start for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott following a runner-up finish at Churchill Downs last time out. Fellow Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher will send out first-time starter Artemus Sound, a son of 2018 Florida Derby-winner Audible. Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey and Jena Antonucci are represented in the field by first-time starters.
A field of sophomore Florida-bred 3-year-old fillies assembled for a $50,000 optional claiming going five-and-a-half furlongs on synthetic, including Mark Casse-trained Karaya, the 8-5 morning-line favorite who graduated on the all-weather surface last time out. Eddie Plesa Jr.-trained multiple stakes-placed Epona’s Hope, a half-sister to multiple stakes-winner Two Sixty, is slated to make her first start on synthetic.
Perhaps Tonight, a two-time winner for trainer Martin Drexler last season at Gulfstream, returns from a Woodbine campaign in Race 8, a mile optional claiming starter allowance on turf for fillies and mares. Sal’s Dream Girl is slated to make her first start for trainer Brittany Russell, who has a 27-percent strike rate first off the claim.
Who’s Hot: Jose Ortiz tripled Saturday, scoring an impressive victory aboard Conquest Warrior ($9) in the ninth race after winning with Tatanka ($12) in the fifth race and Chasing After You ($6.60) in Race 7.
Hot-riding Paco Lopez notched two wins Saturday with Abrumar ($23.80) in the eighth race co-feature and Florida-bred Warda ($10.20) in the first race.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez followed up a victory aboard impressive debut winner Turn Up the Trees ($3.20) in the sixth race with a rallying score aboard Ivory Moon ($6.40) in the eleventh race.
Return to Jan. 13 issue of Wire to Wire