Breeders' Cup Juvenile Maiden Watch: Fierceness stuns at Saratoga

August 28th, 2023

Did we see the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner debut at Saratoga last Friday?

Everyone is abuzz about the spectacular debut of Fierceness, a two-year-old son of Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner City of Light conditioned by three-time Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-winning trainer Todd Pletcher. Fierceness started as the 11-10 favorite in a six-furlong maiden special weight and left no doubt about his superiority, setting stiff fractions of :22.02 and :44.65 over a muddy track before powering clear in the homestretch to dominate by 11 1/4 lengths in 1:09.56.

Pletcher has the Oct. 7 Champagne (G1) at Aqueduct in mind as the next start for Fierceness. The prestigious one-mile contest awards a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and also serves as a Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifier. If Fierceness prevails in the Champagne, you can bet he’ll be a popular choice come Breeders’ Cup time.

The following day at Gulfstream Park, Pletcher saddled another two-year-old debut winner. Self Sufficient, a son of Preservationist, pounced from just off the pace to win a six-furlong maiden special weight by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:11.62.

Getting back to Saratoga, the Friday card also featured a one-mile maiden special weight that was rained off the turf. Global Perspective, coming off a third-place finish in his debut sprinting over the Saratoga main track, didn’t mind the change. The Chad Brown-trained son of Tapit tracked slow splits of :24.99, :49.00, and 1:13.04 over the muddy track before taking command in the final furlong to score by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:38.93.

At Ellis Park, a pair of six-furlong maiden special weights on Sunday produced noteworthy winners. Awesome Road won by far the faster division, dueling through fractions of :22.48 and :45.64 on his way to victory by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:10.80. The stoutly bred son of Quality Road out of the A.P. Indy mare Orate has the pedigree to improve with maturity and thrive running long for two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox.

The other division went to The Process, a Cherie DeVaux trainee who dueled through splits of :22.99 and :46.69 before edging clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:12.45. The son of More Than Ready was produced by the Bernardini mare Eblouissante, a half-sister to legendary 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta and the dam of 2023 Rebel (G2) winner and Kentucky Derby (G1) participant Confidence Game.

We’ll also highlight Rothschild, who proved much the best in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on Friday at Del Mar. The son of 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Uncle Mo carved out fractions of :22.95 and :46.80 before kicking clear in the homestretch to score by 5 1/4 lengths in 1:18.07. Tim Yakteen conditions the bay colt, who debuted with a fifth-place finish in a five-furlong maiden special weight at Del Mar last month.