Kentucky Derby horse Fierceness trains at Palm Beach Downs

'Some horses will run every three to four weeks,' trainer Todd Pletcher says
Posted at 6:18 PM, May 01, 2024

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Horse trainer Todd Pletcher has only one horse racing in the 2024 Kentucky Derby on Saturday: race favorite Fierceness. 

Fierceness is a 3-year-old colt, a winner at the Florida Derby in Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, and trained all winter at Palm Beach Downs west of Delray Beach.

Horse trainer Todd Pletcher trains Kentucky Derby favorite Fierceness. May 1, 2024
Horse trainer Todd Pletcher trains Kentucky Derby favorite Fierceness.

Pletcher said there's a lot of training that goes into preparing a horse for the biggest race.

"Depending on their routine, five days a week would be to go out on the track and have a gallop somewhere in the neighborhood of a mile or a mile and a half," he said. "Then, they have an official time workout once a week. Those will vary in distances from 3 furlongs, 6 furlongs and generally that's your speed work or real fitness that comes from those workouts."

Pletcher said a horse like Fierceness will have a formulated diet with a vitamin program to get them at peak condition.

He said how much racing depends on the horse and the goals.

"Some horses will run every three to four weeks, some will run every few months, so it just sort of depends on what are your major goals and what you're looking to accomplish with them," he said.

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Pletcher said they left Palm Beach County roughly two weeks ago at around 11 a.m. and arrived in Louisville, Kentucky, the following day at 4 a.m.

Now he said it's all about keeping the horse relaxed and loose.

"His final workout was last Friday. Now it's just what we would describe as routine gallops. ... getting acquainted with the starting gate, the starting gate crew, we kind of do mini trials, going over saddling, trying to get them used to what they're going to be exposed to on derby day."

Fierceness is a 5-2 betting favorite with jockey John Velazquez aboard.

The Kentucky Derby, the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, will have TV coverage on NBC and Peacock at 2:30 p.m. USA Network and Peacock will have live Derby Day coverage from noon to 2:20 p.m.