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Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

Oh, Fierceness! Not Again!

By all means, you can skip all the commentary if you like and scroll right down to the disheartening evidence of why Fierceness did not win this race. Just 4 minutes though first, if you'd oblige.

Maybe once a year, if even that, my confidence in one single horse for a specific race has been as hard as concrete. Established. Set in Stone. An absolute stone-cold lock. In some cases, this occurs months in advance. It is a certain reliance and confidence that comes directly from Dr. Roman and from historical records. I just interpret what it tells me to do.

Animal Kingdom in the 2011 Kentucky Derby. He won.

Jackson Bend in the 2012 Carter Handicap. He won.

Shared Belief in the 2015 San Antonio Invitational over California Chrome. He won.

Le Vent Se Leve in the 2018 Champions Cup. He won.

Epicenter in the 2022 Kentucky Derby. He came in second.

Fierceness in the 2024 Holy Bull Stakes. He came in third.

It took about a year to come to terms with the defeat of Epicenter. Again, from the heart, I knew after his Gun Runner Stakes win as a two year old that the Kentucky Derby was his race to win. In my mind, made-to-measure. Untouchable.

I did not watch the Holy Bull live. I immediately went straight for the replay and made sure to cover any wording that revealed the winner. At the 3/4 pole, I jumped up in elation, thinking the straight exacta was in the bag, and then, POOF! It evaporated with a drawn sword straight to the mid-section.

I am the type of person that needs to know exactly what went wrong. This was his race. The others didn't come close to his credentials. There was no way I could let it rest. No way I was going to replay this race in my head for a year like I did with Epicenter's Derby.

It is in my DNA to know exactly what occurred on that racetrack. It is not simply because I made the wrong call.

It is because the race results and performances effects the handicapping of future races. Every detail within the outcome affects the raw data. If the reason is not revealed, mistakes could be made in a future race. It snowballs into future disaster.

So what happened? His performance could not have possibly had anything to do with the bias of the Gulfstream track. He magnificently ran the Juvenile at twice the veracity on the exact same bias at Santa Anita.

The weather, not a factor. The post, not a factor. Three wide at 8.5f, not a factor.

Or was it, as Sysonby had astutely brought up, the possibly of being his first race off the layoff?

It took four hours of slow-motion replay (which did not show it, at all), re-reading the race results chart (which were not very precise) and scouring all corners of the internet to finally see that reason from the correct angle. Hidden in plain view.

We now have video evidence of the full damage.

"...Hades could only have a shot at the win if the favorite doesn't break well - ala Champagne.

 Highly doubt there should be any concern in that happening."

I highly doubted that would occur again. Wrong intuition!

On the race results chart, the "START" line simply stated "POOR".

On the Footnotes: "Fierceness had his head turned at the start and broke a bit awkwardly, was bumped by Sea Streak and then immediately after by Domestic Product..."

Those printed words at first reading were still not an ample excuse. He was bumped a bit and made it up to his preferred spot by the quarter pole. He wasn't left to the rear again. He got "bumped" first by Sea Streak, a horse who had no business being in that race to begin with. Then, supposedly, another "bump" by Domestic Product. It couldn't have been that bad, right?

He did miss his break, which he could not afford to do with Hades on the rail. With his head turned sideways, his awkward break, and what ensued thereafter was the downfall that I "highly doubted" would happen. But it was worse, much worse.

Below is a very poor 13 second video with 2 angles. Of course, with commentary in another language. I have watched this at least 20 times and I am satisfied that there was, in fact, a real excuse for this horse not performing to the obvious expectations against this group.

(You have to press the little arrow at the far bottom left to play.)

Fierceness lost this race at the gate. Again. It was the only way he could have lost it. He was not "bumped" at all. He was slammed out of that gate, sandwiched awkwardly, legs buckled, etc. He did not have a fair start at all coming from that far post. He lost at least 8 lengths. He probably had the wind knocked out him and he could have been stunned and disoriented as well.

Reminds me of Shared Belief in the Breeder's Cup Classic and they both still went on to compete for a board hit. All class. Makes me wonder if this wasn't a preconceived plan as well. Keep Fierceness from the lead at all costs. The more you watch it, the more it looks like it was. Same exact thing. He was kept from hitting his stride to get his position. There is no denying that fact.

Fierceness still remains at the top of the pack, and this only promises better odds in his next prep race. It does not bode well for a 20-horse gate though.

I just found this as well: Todd Pletcher on Fierceness: "He didn’t get off to a very good start. The inside horse bumped him pretty good and then he got sandwiched. . . I think if you watch the replay of the start, it was a pretty rough start, kind of similar to what happened in the Champagne."

Now it is 3am in the morning, and this obsessive lunatic is going to bed. I'll never think about this race again.


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