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After prepping against California-bred competition, Rousing Sermon turned in a pair of strong runner-up finishes in open stakes to earn some national attention and lock up the California-bred 2-year-old title. The homebred son of his owners' young sire Lucky Pulpit won the California Juvenile in October then finished second by a ½ length to the Bob Baffert-trained Liaison in the Real Quiet Stakes at Hollywood Park on November 12. Liaison and Rousing Sermon tangled again in the Grade 1 CashCall Furity on December 17, and Liaison withstood Rousing Sermon's rally to win by a neck. Rousing Sermon was moved up from fourth to third by a disqualification in the Grade 2 Robert  B. Lewis Stakes and finished fifth in the Grade 2 San Felipe. Rousing Sermon is out of the Awesome Again mare Rousing Again.

Rousing Sermon entered the Kentucky Derby off a solid third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby and closed willingly despite traffic trouble to finish eighth in the first jewel of the Triple Crown.

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