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Fierceness Back on the Track at The Holy Bull Stakes Today

NBC Sports has live coverage of the 1/ST Racing Tour from 4-6pm on CNBC today airing 6 races from 2 tracks – Gulfstream Park in Florida, and Santa Anita Park in California.

The headliner of the day is the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream, which features the return of Fierceness, the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and current Kentucky Derby favorite. I’ll get to that race in a minute, but I first want to preview the race directly before that one at Gulfstream – the Kitten’s Joy for 3-year-olds on turf.



The favorite here is #9 Noted, for the powerful jockey/trainer team of Irad Ortiz, Jr and Todd Pletcher. I’m not sure what the connections were thinking by running in the BC Juvenile on dirt in November, but if you take out that race, this colt has never finished worse than 2nd in his career. He’s already got experience over this turf course, winning the Pulpit Stakes on December 9. But I have a couple of gripes with his performance in that race.

First, he got a favorable trip, sitting 4 lengths off a very fast early pace. But even with that great setup, he only won by a neck against suspect competition, and furthermore, his Beyer Speed Figure was a point lower than his runner-up finish in the G2 Bourbon in October – you would like to see 2-year-olds increase their speed figures with each start as they mature. He could win, but I think there’s another runner in this field with just as much talent who will be at least 2x the price.

My pick is #6 First World War. He hasn’t run on turf since finishing behind Noted in the G2 Bourbon at Keeneland in October, as they’ve experimented with running him on dirt in his last 2 starts. The dirt experiment might scare some bettors off, but his pedigree points towards him being more of a turf horse. I like this horse’s tactical speed, too – he should be able to stalk the pacesetter Tocayo and kick clear at the top of the stretch, with hopefully enough in the tank to hold off Noted.

WIN: #4 First World War, at 5/2 or higher



#7 Fierceness, the reigning 2-year-old Champion, towers over this field and should win easily. I don’t think it’s worth trying to beat him on the win end, so I’ll get creative by backwheeling some horses in the exacta and trifecta to get some sort of wagering value.

#3 Otello is 2-for-2 in his career, overcoming traffic trouble in both of those wins. He’s not good enough to beat Fierceness, but I think he’s the “best of the rest” in the field and will be playing him in the “2 hole” in the trifecta.

The other horse I’m using in my wagers is #4 Dancing Groom. Not only does this horse already have 2-turn experience, but it came in a graded stakes – the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill in November. I know he ran poorly there, but maybe it was the wrong spot for him at that time of his career. He’s had a couple of months to mature, and there’s no doubt that he’s got some talent, as evidenced by his 5-length maiden win at Saratoga – one of the hardest tracks in the country to win a maiden race.

I’m hoping that jockey Junior Alvarado takes this colt back to last and is able to pick up the pieces late, finishing 2nd or 3rd behind Fierceness.

TRIFECTA: 7 / 3 / 4

Enjoy the races on Saturday!