Fierceness Pointing To Belmont Stakes

Fierceness | Coady Media

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Fierceness (City of Light), the beaten favorite in the GI Kentucky Derby, is scheduled to make his next start in the GI Belmont S. on June 8 in Saratoga.

“He has settled in well and we are pointing to the Belmont,” trainer Todd Pletcher said in a text.

Sent off at 3-1, Fierceness finished 15th, beaten 24 1/2 lengths in the Derby.

When asked if his colt had any excuses in the Derby, Pletcher replied: “Perhaps too close to a fast pace? Stuck a little wide on both turns?”

Following the Derby, jockey John Velazquez told reporters: “His first jump was not very good. His second and third jump he was OK. He got pretty aggressive since I had to give him a nudge out of there. The horses on the outside put the pressure on and then he got into the bridle. I tried to keep him as settled as much without letting doing too much but he was already engaged. When I let him go, he just didn't have it.”

Even though he ran poorly in the Derby, Fierceness figures to make his presence felt in the Belmont. Classy but inconsistent and enigmatic, he seems to run well every other race. After a spectacular maiden win, he was beaten 20 1/4 lengths in the GI Champagne S. But Pletcher had enough confidence in the Mike Repole-owned homebred to ship him to Santa Anita for the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile, which he won by 6 1/4 lengths.

But old habits seem to die hard with this horse. He kicked off his 3-year-old campaign with a lackluster third-place finish in the GIII Holy Bull S. at Gulfstream before demolishing his opponents in the GI Florida Derby, which he won by 13 /2 lengths.

Pletcher has proven that he can take a horse that ran poorly in the Derby, freshen them up and then have them ready for a big effort in the Belmont. In 2013, Palace Malice (Curlin) won the Belmont for Pletcher after running 12th, beaten 13 1/2 lengths in the Derby. In 2017, Pletcher's Tapwrit (Tapit) won the Belmont after finishing sixth, beaten 10 1/4 lengths in the Derby. He has won the race four times.

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