How to bet against the Kentucky Derby 150 favorite

May 4th, 2024

Fierceness entered Kentucky Derby week as the morning-line favorite at 5-2 on the strength of his 13 1/2-length victory in the Florida Derby on March 30. Trainer Todd Pletcher brings the City of Light colt to Louisville off a five-week break since his latest win, the same approach he used with eventual winner Always Dreaming in 2017. Yet I find myself considering putting my betting dollars elsewhere Saturday. 

In his five-race career, the Repole Stable colt has posted wins in every other start, starting with a maiden special weight victory this past summer in Saratoga. In his next start, the Champagne Stakes at Belmont at the Big A, Fierceness lunged at the start and then was bumped coming out of the gate. He finished seventh. 

To round out his two-year-old season, the City of Light colt came into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at 17-1 and came away with the win after a clean trip. In contrast, his first start of 2024, the Holy Bull Stakes, Fierceness was bumped out of the gate by Domestic Product and then never fired, finishing third. 

He again got a good start and a clean trip in the nine-furlong Florida Derby (G1), but the win came against a field that was not as deep as past editions, despite the presence of fellow Derby starters Catalytic and Grand Mo the First, neither of whom are stakes winners. 

The Kentucky Derby is Fierceness' sixth start in a career where he has not yet put together back-to-back wins. Additionally, he breaks from post 16 and stands a good chance of encountering traffic unless jockey John Velazquez can get him clear in the race's opening strides. The last horse to win from that post was Animal Kingdom in 2011.

With all of that in mind, I am looking to put my Derby dollars on a number other than 17.