The $1.82 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita on Friday was going to determine which of Fierceness‘ previous two starts was the fluke performance: his 11 1/4-length debut romp at Saratoga or his no-show as an odds-on choice in the Champagne (G1).
The fluke performance turned out to be the Champagne, as Fierceness displayed complete authority over what seemed an evenly-matched group of colts and geldings in the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile.
Enjoying a stalking trip similar to what propelled Just F Y I to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) earlier in the day, Fierceness rated in second behind pacesetter General Partner, took the lead around the quarter pole, and drew off to a comfortable 6 1/4-length win under John Velazquez. The final time of 1:41.90 was significantly faster than Just F Y I’s time of 1:44.58 over the same fast strip.
A homebred racing for Mike Repole, Fierceness paid $35 as many bettors cooled to the colt after his poor try in the Champagne, in which he was not persevered with late in the stretch and crossed the wire a well-beaten seventh.
“Look, not everyone would do that,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “We talked about it, we covered every base after the Champagne. The horse trained awesome all summer (at Saratoga); he was a monster since his debut. We took a shot today and it worked out.”
Finishing second in the Juvenile was Muth, recent winner of the American Pharoah (G1) and the second choice in the field of nine. He had a half-length on 2-1 favorite Locked. Timberlake, Prince of Monaco, General Partner, Cuban Thunder, Wine Me Up, and Noted completed the order of finish.
In addition to likely champion two-year-old male honors, Fierceness earned his first 30 qualifying points on the road to the 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1). Breeders’ Futurity (G1) winner Locked earned nine points on Friday, boosting his total to 19, while Champagne (G1) winner Timberlake raised his total from 10 to 16.
Neither Muth nor Prince of Monaco were eligible to earn Derby qualifying points, owing to trainer Bob Baffert’s continued suspension from racing at Churchill Downs.
Bred in Kentucky, Fierceness is by 2018 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner City of Light and out of Nonna Bella, a Stay Thirsty half-sister to Wood Memorial (G1) winner Outwork.