March 4, 2024

Juvenile champ Fierceness stands out in Holy Bull field of eight

Fierceness (Photo by Coglianese Photography/Credit to Susie Raisher)

Officially crowned the leading juvenile colt of 2023 at last week’s Eclipse Awards ceremony, Fierceness will be an overwhelming favorite to get his three-year-old campaign off to a strong beginning on Saturday against seven rivals in the $250,000 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

Fierceness will break from post 7 in the 1 1/16-mile test under John Velazquez. When last seen in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita in early November, Fierceness ran his rivals off their feet by a 6 1/4-length margin while earning a beefy 112 Brisnet Speed rating.

The Juvenile result, while a pari-mutuel surprise as Fierceness broke from the gate as a 16-1 chance, was not an unpredictable outcome. The son of City of Light turned plenty of heads winning his debut by more than 11 lengths at Saratoga last summer, and was an odds-on favorite to follow up in the Champagne (G1) but was not persevered with when failing to reach contention through the stretch.

Fierceness’ main foe might be Holy Bull history. Three juvenile champions in the last dozen years began their sophomore campaigns in the race, and none of them won. That list includes Hansen, fellow Todd Pletcher trainee Shanghai Bobby, and Classic Empire.

Otello stretches out having won both starts around one turn so far, including the Jan. 1 Mucho Macho Man S. over Sea Streak, Inveigled, and No More Time. Hades, meanwhile, gets a class test after defeating optional claiming maidens on debut and Florida-bred allowance foes second out by eight lengths.

Dancing Groom outfinished Fierceness in the Champagne, but still lost by more than 10 lengths and was beaten by an even wider margin last out in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). The field is rounded out by Domestic Product, a fading seventh in a hot renewal of the Remsen (G2) in early December.

The top five finishers in the Holy Bull will earn Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifying points of 20-10-6-4-2, respectively.