Is Finnick the Fierce Destined to win the 2020 Kentucky Derby?
He lost his right eye to a congenital cataract at a very early age. He was bought by Arnaldo Monge, the veterinarian who examined him shortly after birth, for $3,000. Yet somehow Finnick the Fierce has secured himself a starting gate position this year in one of the world’s most famous horse races, the Kentucky Derby.
And yet, early handicappers of the action at the “most exciting two minutes of sports” have him at an insulting 125-1 longshot odds. What’s a gelding gotta do to get some respect in this town?
Finnick the Fierce’s Trainer
Trainer Rey Hernandez shares ownership of Finnick the Fierce with veterinarian Arnaldo Monge. He’s arguably the least experienced trainer with a horse in the Kentucky Derby: 360 starts, nearly half of those in 2020.
Still, he has respectable win/WPS stats, and putting a horse like Finnick the Fierce on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard certainly shows he has the chops.
Finnick the Fierce’s Jockey
Martin Garcia has ridden Finnick the Fierce at his best, with a win in a mid-RTKD allowance race and a third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby. An earlier decision by Monge and Hernandez had Jose L. Ortiz slated to ride the contender in the Kentucky Derby, but Ortiz later decided to opt out, and the owners asked Garcia to complete the job he started.
Of the switch back to Garcia, Arnaldo Monge told reporters: “God has a plan, I guess, and you can’t question destiny. He [Finnick the Fierce] made the Derby, so we’ll find the best way we can to get him ready.”
Finnick the Fierce’s Recent Form
Finnick the Fierce broke his maiden in June of 2019, but aside from that and a few allowance races to keep it real, he’s concentrated on qualifying races for the Kentucky Derby.
And he’s picked up RTKD points in most of them, starting with a second-place finish ahead of Tiz the Law in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (4 Road points) in November 2019, then he rang in 2020 with a fourth in the Lecomte Stakes (1 point) in January.
He didn’t fare so well in February in the Risen Star Stakes, finishing seventh, and in March, his connections ran him in an allowance race at Oakland Park, perhaps as a confidence builder. If so, the strategy worked, sort of–he won, albeit via disqualification of the original winner for interference.
And Finnick the Fierce did go on in May to score a third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (20 points).
Finnick the Fierce was entered into another “confidence builder” in June, but finished third, and his final run in a Kentucky Derby qualifying race—the Blue Grass Stakes in July—resulted in a 7th place finish.
Does Finnick the Fierce Deserve 125-1 odds?
That’s what the early handicapping had his chances in the Kentucky Derby: 125-1. This is a horse that has proven he can outrun Tiz the Law. He’s Number 17 on the RTKD leaderboard, with 25 points to prove he knows how to compete. That should be worth something.
In reality, horse racing–like every other form of human endeavor–is a “what have you done for me lately” enterprise, and the sad truth is, for his last few starts, Finnick the Fierce has not shown himself to be threat to his competition.
Whether he has peaked already, or for some indiscernible reason he simply doesn’t care to compete anymore, I don’t think Finnick the Fierce will be wearing the garland of roses on Saturday.