Kentucky Derby contender profile: Finnick the Fierce

August 21st, 2020

Finnick the Fierce might not be the most consistent runner in the prospective Kentucky Derby (G1) field, but when this chestnut gelding brings his "A" game, he is capable of surprising at a big price.

A son of 2011 Kentucky Derby favorite Dialed In, out of the Southern Image mare Southern Classic, Finnick the Fierce figures to be a fan favorite on Derby Day. He is an underdog, battling to hold his own against tough competition. He has overcome adversity, having lost his right eye at an early age. And who doesn’t love a good longshot?

Finnick the Fierce first made headlines in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs. A modest maiden win and a fourth-place effort in an allowance established Finnick the Fierce as an 87-1 longshot for his stakes debut, but after he settled off the pace over a sloppy track, he rallied strongly down the stretch to finish second.

Finnick the Fierce’s effort was esepcially noteworthy, because he finished ahead of future Belmont Stakes (G1) winner and Kentucky Derby favorite Tiz the Law, but for a time, this performance appeared to be a fluke. During the winter at Fair Grounds, Finnick the Fierce failed to challenge in a pair of Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races. He came in fourth in the Lecomte (G3) and seventh in the Risen Star (G2).

But a return to sloppy footing for an Oaklawn Park allowance reawakened Finnick the Fierce. The Rey Hernandez-trained youngster didn’t get a clean trip during his rally up the rail but managed to cross the wire in second place, and the stewards awarded Finnick the Fierce victory via disqualification.

A month later, Finnick the Fierce stepped up sharply in class for a division of the Arkansas Derby (G1), where he again surprised bettors with a charge to finish third at 62-1.

Finnick the Fierce has faltered in his latest runs. He came home third in a tough Churchill Downs allowance, then split the field to finish seventh in Keeneland’s Blue Grass (G2).

But stretch-running sophomores like Finnick the Fierce can be unpredictable types. They’re prone to unleash strong efforts when you least expect them, as Finnick the Fierce has already demonstrated on a couple of high-profile occasions.

Finnick the Fierce could outrun expectations in the Kentucky Derby, particularly if the track comes up sloppy. If his effort in the Kentucky Jockey Club is any indication, Finnick the Fierce has an affinity for Churchill Downs, so anything could happen on the first Saturday in September.