Pletcher Star Slated to Return in G1 Florida Derby March 30


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Repole Stable’s Fierceness breezed five furlongs Friday morning at Palm Beach Downs in preparation for a planned start in the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) March 30 at Gulfstream Park.

Fierceness, the 2023 Eclipse Award 2-year-old champion who finished a disappointing third in the Feb. 3 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream, breezed in company with Spendthrift Farm LLC’s Tuscan Sky, a son of Vino Rosso who is undefeated in two starts.

The Todd Pletcher-trained duo was timed in 1:01.3 with Fierceness galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.82 and seven furlongs in 1:28.19 with a lot of energy.

“He went really, really well, as he always does. He’s a very impressive horse to watch breeze. He finished strong and galloped out great,” said the Hall of Fame trainer who has saddled a record seven Florida Derby winners.

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez was aboard the son of City of Light, who breezed outside Tuscan Sky and Luis Saez.

“The horse gives you a lot of confidence watching him breeze,” Pletcher said. “It seems like he’s in really good form, so we’re expecting a good performance from him.”

Fierceness was squeezed and bumped between horses shortly after the break in the Holy Bull and raced four-wide on the first turn while chasing front-running Hades. The 1-5 favorite entered contention on the backstretch and briefly took the lead approaching the far turn. Forced to race wide on the turn into the homestretch, Fierceness faltered to finish third, 3 ½ lengths behind victorious Hades.

Fierceness Is coming off a 6 ¼-length victory in the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita. The homebred son of 2019 Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) winner scored an 11 ¼-length debut victory over a pair of next-out winners on a muddy Saratoga track Aug. 25 before finishing off the board following a troubled start in the Oct. 7 Champagne on a sloppy Aqueduct surface.

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