Unbeaten Independence Hall Cruises in Jerome After Tardy Start

Independence Hall, from the first crop of WinStar Farm‘s Tapit stallion Constitution, was an easy four-length winner of Wednesday’s $150,000 Jerome at Aqueduct in Ozone Park, N.Y., despite breaking slowly from the gate in the Kentucky Derby points race for 3-year-olds.

Ridden by Jose Ortiz, the Michael Trombetta-trained colt ran his record to a perfect 3-for-3 as the 1-9 favorite in the New Year’s Day feature, covering a one-turn mile on a fast main track in 1:37.27. He carried 123 pounds, conceding five pounds to his opposition under the allowance conditions of the Jerome. Prince of Pharoahs and Bourbon Bay finished in a dead-heat for second, with Celtic Striker 11 1/4 lengths farther back in fourth in the field of six. Inside Risk was scratched.

Independence Hall races for the partnership of Eclipse Thoroughbreds, Twin Creeks Racing Stable and Kathleen and Robert Verratti and was bred in Kentucky by Woodford Thoroughbreds, which sold him for $100,000 to Charlestown Investments at the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Independence Hall won his Sept. 21 debut at Parx Racing for the Verrattis, then captured the G3 Nashua at Aqueduct on Nov. 3 by a record margin of 12 1/4 lengths after Eclipse and Twin Creeks bought into the horse.

Breaking a step behind the field from the No. 2 post position, Ortiz guided Independence Hall to the outside in the long run down the backstretch as Dubai Bobby led through a quarter mile in :23.79 and a half in :47.47. Independence Hall quickly took command into the far turn, was in front with a quarter mile to run, the six furlongs in 1:12.54, then pulled away to win easily under intermittent encouragement from Ortiz after drifting out at the top of the stretch. He paid $2.20 to win.

Bourbon Bay rallied wide to finish on even terms with Prince of Pharoahs, who was forwardly placed early.

“He had a lot of energy here in the paddock, but last time he was like that too on the racetrack,” said Ortiz. “Today, as soon as I got to the pony, he was very nice and relaxed. He broke a bit slow today because he wasn’t standing the right way.

“It was a small field and I was able to put him in the clear. I didn’t want to get stuck in behind horses today and try to be a hero. I got the opportunity to ride him like he was the best horse and I did.

“From the quarter pole to the wire he did very well. He didn’t look like he did last time, but these are a little better horses and I think the track is very tiring today.”

Independence Hall earned 10 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby, with the runners-up each earning three points and Celtic Striker receiving one point.

“I thought it was good,” Trombetta said of the win. “Jose said it was a bit tiring. He didn’t get away good, and this probably got to the bottom of him because it’s been two months. This is a different track than he ran on last time (winning the Nashua). I’m just glad to get through it and it’s one more step in the direction we want to go.

“Truthfully, even if he didn’t win and he was a little vulnerable, if he did things right and was still well, that’s horse racing. As hard as it is to take sometimes, I would have been good with it. Everyone knows what our goals are and we’re trying to get there one step at a time.

“I’ll talk to the partners but I think the plan will be next week to head down to Tampa and train down there and get out of this weather and get him ready for the next step,” Trombetta added. “It could be the Sam F. Davis (Feb. 8), it’s on the radar in five weeks. But the intent was after today was to head south.”

Independence Hall was produced from the Cape Town mare Kalahari Cat, whose dam, Desert Stormette, is a full sister to G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Desert Stormer. He is one of five stakes winners from the first crop by Constitution, who won the G1 Florida Derby and G1 Donn Handicap racing for Twin Creeks Racing and WinStar Farm.

The post Unbeaten Independence Hall Cruises in Jerome After Tardy Start appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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