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Fierceness is 5-2 morning line favorite for the milestone 150th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs


LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Fierceness was named the 5-2 morning line favorite for the upcoming 150th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and will look to make history in next Saturday’s milestone race as the first entrant to win in 45 attempts from the No. 17 post position.

The Todd Pletcher-trained colt enters the 1 1/4-mile opening leg of the Triple Crown races on May 4 off a dominating 13 1/2-length win in last month’s Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park and has a third-place finish as a 3-year-old. Fierceness aims to give the Hall of Fame trainer his third Derby win and first since 2017 with Always Dreaming.

Coming just a year after Pletcher-trained Derby favorite Forte was scratched hours before the race with a bruised right foot, Fierceness owner Mike Repole is glad to have another top choice, even with history working against the post position.

“We’re in a great spot,” Repole said. “If you could draw it up, you want to be somewhere outside and you don’t want the speed inside. It’s blessed, couldn’t have asked for a better (post) for us other than we found out that (No.) 17 is 0 for 44. And I’m 0 for 9, so we’re 0 for 53 combined, but we’re OK.”

Also, Brad Cox-trained filly Tarifa is the 7-2 morning line favorite for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks after drawing the No. 8 post.

Sierra Leone, whose 155 points led the Derby qualifying trail, drew the No. 2 post as the 3-1 second choice for the $5 million Grade I premier race for 3-year-olds. The son of Gun Runner and Heavenly Love by Malibu Moon has rallied from deep in the field to win both starts this year including a thrilling trip in the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland three weeks ago, which followed a testy entry to the gate.

“He’s just a touch farther in than I wanted but he didn’t get the 1 hole, so I’m OK with that,” said trainer Chad Brown, whose other Derby entry, Domestic Product, drew the No. 15 post at 30-1 odds.

Catching Freedom is the 8-1 third Derby choice from the No. 14 post and will aim to give Cox his first outright Derby victory after Mandaloun was elevated to 2021 Derby winner following the disqualification of deceased colt Medina Spirit for a failed postrace drug test. Cox’s other entries, Just a Touch and Encino, drew the Nos. 8 and 9 posts respectively and were listed at 10-1 and 20-1 odds.

Japan-bred entries T O Password and Forever Young will start alongside each other from the Nos. 10 and 11 posts respectively with odds of 30-1 and 10-1.

Tarifa will start Friday’s Oaks from the No. 8 post as the 7-2 favorite. She has won all three starts this season to lead the Oaks trail with 150 points and has won four of five lifetime starts while earning $456,000. The dark brown filly will attempt to give Louisville-born Cox his third Oaks win and first since 2020 with Shedaresthedevil.

“Very happy with how she’s coming into it,” Cox said of Tarifa. “I need her to settle. (Jockey) Flavien (Prat) knows her now, rode her in her last two, and he’s had opportunity to breeze her the last two weeks. Hopefully, she gets away well, gets a good, clean trip, and I think she’s gonna like the mile and an eighth.”

Just F Y I, trained by Hall of Famer and four-time Eclipse winner Bill Mott, is the 9-2 second choice in Friday’s $1.5 million Oaks and will start from the No. 13 post. Pletcher-trained filly Leslie’s Rose is the 4-1 third choice from the far No. 14 post, looking to follow up her win in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland on April 5.

The draw was held on opening night of Churchill Downs’ spring meet for the first time and a week ahead of the milestone race, two days earlier than in recent years.

Post time for the Derby is 6:57 p.m. ET. Friday’s Oaks is scheduled for a 5:51 p.m. post.

The Kentucky Derby 150 field from the rail out, with odds: Dornoch (20-1), Sierra Leone (3-1), Mystik Dan (20-1), Catching Freedom (8-1), Catalytic (30-1), Just Steel (20-1), Honor Marie (20-1), Just a Touch (10-1), Encino (20-1), T O Password (30-1), Forever Young (10-1), Track Phantom (20-1), West Saratoga (50-1), Endlessly (30-1), Domestic Product (30-1), Grand Mo the First (50-1), Fierceness (5-2), Stronghold (20-1), Resilience (20-1), Society Man (50-1). Also eligible: Epic Ride (50-1), Mugatu (50-1).

The Kentucky Oaks 150 field from the rail out, with odds: Tapit Jenallie (30-1), Gin Gin (30-1), Where’s My Ring (15-1), Regulatory Risk (20-1), Thorpedo Anna (5-1), Lemon Muffin (30-1), Fiona’s Magic (30-1), Tarifa (7-2), Everland (30-1), Into Champagne (30-1), Ways and Means (5-1), Power Squeeze (12-1), Just F Y I (9-2), Leslie’s Rose (4-1). Also eligible: Our Pretty Woman (15-1), Candied (20-1).

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AP horse racing: https://apnews.com/hub/horse-racing



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