HALLANDALE BEACH, FL—Coming off a record-breaking victory in the March 30 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, Fierceness breezed at Palm Beach Downs Friday morning in preparation for a highly anticipated start in the May 4 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1).

A graduate of the Ocala Stud early training program, Fierceness covered five furlongs in 1:00.35 under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. The Repole Stable homebred colt worked in company with graded-stakes winner Agate Road.

“I thought he worked super—a solid five-eighths with a good gallop-out. Exactly what we were targeting,” Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said. “I think he is doing every bit as good, if not better, than he was going into the Florida Derby.”

Plans for Fierceness beyond Friday’s breeze are still indefinite. Pletcher said he will continue to monitor weather conditions in Kentucky.

Fierceness provided Pletcher with his record eighth Florida Derby success while posting the largest winning margin in the 73-year history of Gulfstream’s Triple Crown prep, eclipsing Empire Maker’s old record of nine-and-three-quarters lengths set in 2003. His 2017 Florida Derby winner, Always Dreaming, went on to win the Kentucky Derby that year.


Catalytic Preps for Kentucky Derby with 5F Breeze at Gulfstream

Tami Bobo, Julie Davies and George Isaacs’ Catalytic, who finished second behind Fierceness while making only his third career start and stakes debut in the Florida Derby, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.72 at Gulfstream Park Friday morning.

In addition to being a co-owner, Davies also provided the early training for Catalytic.

“Everything went all right. I got him in a minute and four-fifths and the [six-furlong] gallop-out in 1:14-and-change,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said.

Catalytic entered the Florida Derby off a sharp debut victory at Gulfstream in October and a second-place finish in a second condition, $75,000 optional claiming on March 8 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Joseph plans to ship the son of Catalina Cruiser to Churchill Downs Sunday for a start in the May 4 Kentucky Derby (G1), weather permitting.

“The key is to get there, and once you get there, anything can happen in the Derby,” Joseph said.

Return to the April 19 issue of Wire to Wire