Florida Derby Champ Is Favorite In Kentucky Derby

Written By Cheryl Coward on May 2, 2024
Fierceness practicing for the Kentucky Derby

The favorite to win Saturday’s Kentucky Derby is already a Derby winner. Fierceness, a Kentucky-bred bay colt, dominated the Florida Derby on March 30.

The race is Florida horse racing’s most prestigious event. Additionally, the race has proven to be a forecaster for horse racing’s premier event, as 25 horses that have won the Florida Derby went on to take the Kentucky Derby crown as well.

Fierceness enjoys 5-2 odds for Saturday’s race, the 150th running of the first leg of the sport’s Triple Crown.

Florida horse bettors can wager on the race through the FanDuel Racing app, among others.

Owner of Fierceness has never won a Kentucky Derby

Florida has several horse racing tracks, two of which run prestigious thoroughbred races: Gulfstream Park in Hallandale and Tampa Bay Downs. The Florida Derby and Holy Bull Stakes take place at Gulfstream.

Fierceness won the Florida Derby this year by the largest margin in the race’s history at 13½-lengths. It led wire to wire with an impressive display of stamina and speed. The race showcased the horse’s improvement after finishing third at the Holy Bull Stakes earlier this year.

Fierceness is owned by Mike Repole, who has yet to have a horse win the Kentucky Derby. His horses have lost seven Run for the Roses races, though two of his champion thoroughbreds failed to make the starting gate. In 2011, Uncle Mo had a gastrointestinal infection and was scratched. Then, last year, Forte was scratched just hours before the race because of a bruised foot.

Fierceness is trained by Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. The Florida Derby win was the second consecutive victory for a Pletcher-trained horse and the trainer’s eighth overall, a track record. It was the sixth Florida Derby win for jockey John Velazquez, who will sit atop Fierceness again in Saturday’s race.

A Pletcher-trained horse has won the race at Churchill Downs twice. Super Saver won it in 2010 and Always Dreamer won in 2017.

Florida race the last key race before Kentucky Derby

As the home to the nation’s top thoroughbred breeding farms, Florida plays an important role in the Kentucky Derby. It is a breeding ground for champions and hosts important races during the winter racing circuit, when the weather is too harsh in other states. Marion County, in Central Florida, is considered the top thoroughbred breeding area in the country.

Bettors look to the Florida Derby because it is the last important race before the Kentucky Derby. The winner receives a favored gate assignment for the Derby.

While Fierceness is the frontrunner, there are a handful of other horses in contention on Saturday.

  • Sierra Leone: Multiple graded stakes winner with impressive points on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
  • Catching Freedom: A strong showing in the Louisiana Derby makes this horse one to watch.
  • Forever Young: A Japanese contender that has had promising results.
  • Just a Touch: Experts believe the horse is a strong competitor with the right preparation.

Current Kentucky Derby odds

Post PositionHorseTrainerJockeyMorning Line Odds
1DornochDanny GarganLuis Saez20-1
2Sierra LeoneChad BrownTyler Gaffalione3-1
3Mystik DanKenny McPeekBrian Hernandez Jr.20-1
4Catching FreedomBrad CoxFlavien Prat8-1
5CatalyticSaffie Joseph Jr.Jose Ortiz30-1
6Just SteelWayne LukasKeith Asmussen20-1
7Honor MarieWhit BeckmanBen Curtis20-1
8Just A TouchBrad CoxFlorent Geroux10-1
9EncinoBrad CoxAxel Concepcion20-1
10T O PasswordDaisuke TakayanagiKazushi Kimura30-1
11Forever YoungYoshito YahagiRyusei Sakai10-1
12Track PhantomSteve AsmussenJoel Rosario20-1
13West SaratogaLarry DemeritteJesus Castanon50-1
14EndlesslyMichael McCarthyUmberto Rispoli30-1
15Domestic ProductChad BrownIrad Ortiz Jr.30-1
16Grand Mo The FirstVictor Barboza Jr.Emisael Jaramillo50-1
17FiercenessTodd PletcherJohn Velazquez5-2
18StrongholdPhil D'AmatoAntonio Fresu20-1
19ResilienceBill MottJunior Alvarado20-1
20Society ManDanny GarganFrankie Dettori50-1
Epic Ride (Alternate)
Mugatu (Alternate)
Photo by AP Photo / Charlie Riedel
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Written by
Cheryl Coward

Cheryl Coward is a writer for PlayFL with a background in sports journalism. She started her career as a news reporter in Washington, D.C. She's a die-hard women's basketball fanatic and founded the website Hoopfeed.com as a result of that passion.

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