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Kentucky Derby News | Fierceness, Catalytic Each Work 5 Furlongs
Fierceness (Ryan Thompson / Coglianese Photos)

Kentucky Derby News | Fierceness, Catalytic Each Work 5 Furlongs

Coming off a record-breaking victory in the March 30 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, Fierceness breezed at Palm Beach Downs Friday morning in preparation for a highly anticipated start in the May 4 Kentucky Derby (G1).

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The 2023 Eclipse Award’s 2-year-old male champion covered five furlongs in 1:00.35 under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. The Repole Stable homebred colt worked in company with graded-stakes winner Agate Road.

“I thought he worked super – a solid five-eighths with a good gallop-out, exactly what we were targeting,” Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said. “I think he is doing every bit as good, if not better, than he was going into the Florida Derby.”

Plans for Fierceness beyond Friday’s breeze are still indefinite, said Pletcher, who will continue to monitor weather conditions in Kentucky.

Fierceness provided Pletcher with his record eighth Curlin Florida Derby success while posting the largest winning margin in the 73-year history of Gulfstream’s Triple Crown prep, eclipsing Empire Maker’s old record of 9 ¾ lengths set in 2003. Always Dreaming (2017) went on to win the Kentucky Derby.

Fierceness, who completed his championship juvenile season with a 6 ¼ victory in the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita, got off to a disappointing start of his 2024 campaign with a third-place finish behind Hades in the Feb. 3 Holy Bull (G3) as the 1-5 favorite.

The Kentucky-bred colt, who had a troubled start and a wide trip in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull, rebounded in spectacular fashion, taking complete control at the start of the 1 1/8-mile Curlin Florida Derby and cruising to a dominant victory.

Catalytic Preps for Kentucky Derby with 5F Breeze at Gulfstream

Tami Bobo, Julie Davies and George Isaacs’ Catalytic, who finished a distant second behind Fierceness while making only his third career start and stakes debut in the March 30 Curlin Florida Derby (G1), breezed five furlongs in 1:00.72 at Gulfstream Park Friday morning.

“Everything went all right. I got him in a minute and four-fifths and the [six-furlong] gallop-out in 1:14-and-change,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said.

Catalytic entered the Curlin Florida Derby off a sharp debut victory at Gulfstream in October and a second-place finish in a March 8 optional claiming allowance at Tampa Bay Downs.

Joseph plans to ship the son of Catalina Cruiser to Churchill Downs Sunday for a start in the May 4 Kentucky Derby (G1), weather permitting.

“The key is to get there, and once you get there, anything can happen in the Derby,” Joseph said.