Fierceness 5-2 ML Fav, Dornoch Pulls Post 1

April 27, 2024

Kentucky Derby draw. (Coady Media/Churchill Downs)

Churchill Downs Release

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Repole Stable’s homebred Fierceness, dominating winner of the Florida Derby (GI) in his most recent start, has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite for the 150th running of the $5 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI).

The Run for the Roses will highlight a 14-race program that begins at 10:30 a.m. (all times Eastern) and featured nine stakes races worth a combined $10.75 million. The Kentucky Derby, which will reward the winner with $3.1 million, is the 12th race of the day with a 6:57 p.m. post time.

Trained by two-time Kentucky Derby winner Todd Pletcher, Fierceness earned the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old in 2023 with a 6 ¼-length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) at Santa Anita.

Third in his 2024 debut in the Holy Bull (GIII), Fierceness rebounded with a 13 ½-length victory in the Florida Derby. John Velazquez, who has been aboard Fierceness for his past three starts, has the mount Saturday from post 17.

The gem-encrusted top of the 150th Kentucky Derby. (Coady Media/Churchill Downs)

Like Pletcher, Velazquez is a multiple Derby winner. Velazquez won on Animal Kingdom in 2011 and Authentic in 2020 and teamed with Pletcher to win the 2017 running with Always Dreaming. Pletcher’s other victory came with Super Saver in 2010.

Second choice on the morning line at 3-1 is Peter Brant, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg and Brook Smith’s Sierra Leone, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes (GI) in his most recent start.

Trained by Chad Brown, Sierra Leone is three for four in his career and perfect in 2024 with his debut resulting in a victory in the Risen Star (GII). Tyler Gaffalione, who has been aboard for both races this year, has the mount from post 2.

Brown also will saddle Klaravich Stables’ Domestic Product (30-1). Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount from post 15.

Third choice on the morning line at 8-1 is Albaugh Family Stables’ Louisiana Derby (GII) winner Catching Freedom. Trained by Brad Cox, who saddled 2021 Derby winner Mandaloun, Catching Freedom will be ridden by Flavien Prat from post 4. Prat won the 2019 Derby on Country House.

One of these horses could get its name engraved on the golden trophy. (Coady Media/Churchill Downs)
One of these horses could get its name engraved on the golden trophy. (Coady Media/Churchill Downs)

Cox will have two other entrants in Qatar Racing, Resolute Racing and Marc Detampel’sJust a Touch (10-1 co-fourth choice) and Godolphin’s Encino (20-1).

Just a Touch, runner-up to Sierra Leone in the Blue Grass Stakes, will attempt to give Florent Geroux a second Derby victory to go with Mandaloun. Just a Touch will exit post 8.

Encino, winner of the Lexington (GIII) at Keeneland in his most recent start will be ridden by Axel Concepcion from post 9.

Also at 10-1 on the morning line is Japanese invader Forever Young (JPN).

Owned by Susumu Fujita and trained by Yoshito Yahagi, Forever Young is undefeated in five career starts and this year has won the Saudi Derby (GIII) and the UAE Derby (GII).

Ryusei Sakai, who has been aboard Forever Young in all of his starts, will make his Kentucky Derby debut and start from post 11.

In addition to Pletcher and Cox, two other trainers will be trying to boost their victory totals in the Derby.

D. Wayne Lukas, who will send out BC Stables’ Just Steel (20-1), has four victories in the Run for the Roses. He first won with Winning Colors in 1988, with Thunder Gulch (1995), Grindstone (1996) and Charismatic (1999) following.

Keith Asmussen will make his Derby debut riding Just Steel from post 6.

Bill Mott, who has Country House’s 2019 Derby victory on his resume, will saddle Emily Bushnell and Ric Waldman’s Wood Memorial (GII) winner Resilience (20-1). Junior Alvarado has the mount from post 19.

Newly-minted Hall of Famer Joel Rosario, who won the 2013 Derby on Orb, goes for his second Derby victory on L and N Racing, Clark Brewster, Jerry Caroom and Breeze Easy’s Track Phantom (20-1).

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Track Phantom won the Lecomte (GIII) in January and then was second in the Risen Star to Sierra Leone and fourth in the Louisiana Derby to Catching Freedom. Track Phantom drew post 12.

Derby Draw Final

Click for Derby Day Overnight

Thoughts on the post draw:
Connections Quotes From The 2024 Kentucky Derby Post Position Draw

DORNOCH (Post 1, 20-1), Society Man (Post 20, 50-1) – trainer Danny Gargan – “Dornoch is going to come out of there running so it’s not the end of the world. It’s the new gate so a lot of people are saying the 1 hole is not what it used to be. So, we’re not breaking into that funny turn and that will help too. I don’t think it’s the kiss of death. There’s no speed on our outside so hopefully he’ll break running and we’ll put him on the front end and see how it goes. We planned on keeping his face clean, now we’ll keep it real clean. And society man is a closer, so he’ll just break and get over and sit midpack, maybe 10th or 10th and hopefully make a big run.”

Sierra Leone works outside of Domestic Spending for Chad Brown. (Jenny Doyle/Past The Wire)
Sierra Leone works outside of Domestic Spending for Chad Brown. (Jenny Doyle/Past The Wire)

SIERRA LEONE (Post 2, 3-1), DOMESTIC PRODUCT (Post 15, 30-1),– trainer Chad Brown – “Not that bad. Sierra Leone, he’s in just a touch farther in than I wanted but he didn’t get the 1 hole so I’m OK with that. With this particular horse, what I didn’t want was the 19 or 20. In fact, it would have been hard for him to drop over without losing ground, significant ground around the first turn. With Domestic Product, I thought it was a very good draw for him. He has a lot of natural speed; he should be in the second flight, and I think that Irad (Ortiz Jr.) will have plenty of options from the 15 for that long run down the stretch the first time to sort of position himself hopefully behind the half dozen speed horses.”

MYSTIC DAN (Post 3, 20-1) – trainer Kenny McPeek – “I like it a lot. When you’re waiting for your number to come up, I told my wife that posts 3 or 7 was good for me. He can track right into the turn and he’s a horse that’s proven that he can run inside horses. So he doesn’t need the outside and he’s going to get a shorter trip from this post. So I’m very pleased.”

CATCHING FREEDOM (Post 4, 8-1), Encino (Post 9, 20-1), Just a Touch (Post 8, 10-1) – trainer Brad Cox – “Post positions are pretty over rated in my opinion. They all drew fine. If you’re a good enough horse you can overcome any post position. We can’t control posts so I like to keep things in perspective of what I can control, which is their training. They all worked well this morning and are training great going into the race. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to running all three horses.”

CATALYTIC (Post 5, 30-1) – trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. – “We drew well, so we can’t complain about the draw. We just have to get away clean and after that it’s up to Jose (Ortiz) to give him a good trip and for him to run the race of his life.”

Just Steel goes around for the coach. (Jenny Doyle/Past The Wire)
Just Steel goes around for the coach. (Jenny Doyle/Past The Wire)

JUST STEEL (Post 6, 20-1) – trainer Wayne Lukas – “It’s fine. I just didn’t want inside. I don’t care for the inside but anything from probably the 5 out is comfortable.”

HONOR MARIE (Post 7, 20-1) – trainer Whit Beckman – “It’s a great spot. We’re ready to go.”

WEST SARATOGA (Post 13, 50-1) – trainer Larry Demeritte – “I think it’s just fine breaking from post 13. We are so grateful to be here and enjoying every single minute.”

ENDLESSLY (Post 14, 30-1) – trainer Michael McCarthy – “Fantastic. I wanted to be anywhere between seven and 14, so this is perfect.”

FIERCENESS (Post 17, 5-2) – trainer Todd Pletcher – “I’m fine with the post. There’s a long enough run into the first turn to hopefully establish position.”

STRONGHOLD (Post 18, 20-1) – trainer Phil D’Amato – “It’s not the worst. He gets away from there pretty well so I think we can get a good spot.”

Resilience gets a frisky Saturday work. (Jenny Doyle/Past The Wire)
Resilience gets a frisky Saturday work. (Jenny Doyle/Past The Wire)

RESILIENCE (Post 19, 20-1) – trainer Bill Mott – “I’m fine with it. For me, I would have preferred to be in the outside half than the inside half. We have a certain amount of speed but not the speed that you would need to get away from the 1 hole or even the 2 hole. So, you know, I think I’m happy enough being out there. Part of it is the trip and you have a chance from there to have a clean trip at least through the stretch and hopefully by the time you get to the turn, something works out in your favor, and you can track in a little bit.

“For a unique and real perspective on horse racing, I read Jonathan Stettin’s column Past the Wire.” Bob Baffert, Multiple Triple Crown winner, Eclipse Award winner, Hall of Fame Champion Trainer

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