News and STORIES

Independence Hall Set To Kick Off 3-Year-Old Campaign In Jerome

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Wednesday January 01, 2020
Trainer Michael Trombetta has decided to enter Independence Hall in the $150,000 Jerome Stakes for sophomores Wednesday at Aqueduct Racetrack. The horse will soon turn three years old, and he is the son of Constitution. In his impressive performance two months ago, Independence Hall was fast and improved. 

Independence Hall was originally owned by Kathleen and Robert N. Verratti, and he scored a 4 3/4-length win in a Sept. 21 maiden race at Parx Racing. His performance in that race drew the attention of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners president and founder Aron Wellman. 

After linking up with the Twin Creeks Racing Stable of Randy Gullatt and Steve Davison, they purchased shares of the colt. His next start came in the $150,000 Nashua Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct Nov. 3. 

Drawing Interest 

Davison, the co-owner of Ragozin Service, and Gullatt were especially interested in Independence Hall. They raced Constitution and have breeding rights to WinStar Farm's popular first-crop sire of 2019.

They got what they wanted when the dark bay colt beat his eight rivals in the one-turn, mile stakes. He took a 12 1/4-length victory and set a stakes-record time of 1:34.66.

The horse was at 9-1 odds.

"We were surprised by that performance," Trombetta said about the victory. "We had confidence that he would go up there and run a big race, but he exceeded our expectations."

After that, handicappers backed Independence Hall to 13-1 in the first round of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. 

"With a 2-year-old with his makeup that puts in a performance like that," Wellman said, "you have to start to treat him like a Derby horse."

It was decided that the colt would sit out the two-turn Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct Dec. 7, and his connections instead decided to head for the Jerome at the same one-turn mile as the Nashua. 

"In conversations with the owners, the horse ran so fast that they wanted to give him whatever time they could afford to give him, so instead of coming back in five weeks (in the Remsen), they wanted to buy him some more time," Trombetta said. "We were a little uncomfortable with the time frame for the Remsen. 

"(The Nashua) was a crazy-fast performance. The first race was good, but the next was special."

Six Rivals

Six rivals are set to go against Independence Hall, and only one of them has run in a stakes. That horse is Inside Risk, and he was ninth in the Grey Stakes (G3) on a synthetic surface and sixth, defeated by 14 lengths, on a sloppy track in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course. 

Trombetta is happy about the way Independence Hall is coming into the stakes.

"He's training well. We are very happy with him and looking forward to running him," Trombetta said.

According to Trombetta, Independence Hall will go to Florida, and he will be tested around two turns. 

"You hear it all the time, but it's a race at a time for me," he said. "I'm hoping for the best possible result (in the Jerome), but we'll take one challenge at a time. If all goes well, we'll relocate to Florida for the winter and make some decisions once we get down there. The owners want to get him out of the weather."

Jose Ortiz will be the jockey, and he rode Independence Hall for the first time in the Nashua. They will break from post 3 with the likely odds-on choice at post time. 

The Jerome is set to be the seventh race on an eight-race holiday card beginning at 12:50 p.m.