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Independence Hall Overcomes Rough Start to Win Jerome
NYRA/Susie Raisher

Independence Hall Overcomes Rough Start to Win Jerome

SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY – It’s a special horse who overcomes acting up multiple times in the saddling ring and breaking slowly to win by multiple lengths, but that’s exactly what Independence Hall did in Wednesday’s $150,000 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct.

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Breaking from post 3 under Jose Ortiz as the 1/10 favorite, Independence Hall was last into stride after lunging out of the gate, but he quickly regathered himself and soon raced wide just off of Dubai Bobby‘s flank. The Chad Summers-trained Dubai Bobby posted opening fractions of :23.79 and :47.47, but shortly after hitting the 1/2-mile pole, Independence Hall ranged up and took the lead heading into the far turn.

Near the 1/4 pole, Independence Hall appeared to blow the turn slightly, and at the top of the stretch, he was racing in the middle of the lane. Ortiz corrected his steed and set him down for the run home, at which point he began to pull away with each stride.

Despite shying away from Ortiz’s encouragements in the stretch drive, Independence Hall’s talent was strong enough to put him 4 lengths the best at the wire. The Mike Trombetta trainee completed the mile-long event over the good main track in a final time of 1:37.27.

Independence Hall acting up in the paddock before the Jerome (Credit: NYRA/Susie Raisher)

“He had a lot of energy here in the paddock, but last time he was like that, too, on the racetrack,” Ortiz said. “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.”

After battling heads apart for the second half of the race, Prince of Pharoahs and Bourbon Bay finished in a dead heat for second. Celtic Striker was 11 1/4 lengths back in fourth, while Polar Bear Pete and an empty Dubai Bobby completed the order of finish.

The Jerome is part of the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Independence Hall earned 10 points for the win, with Prince of Pharoahs and Bourbon Bay each receiving 4 for second and Celtic Striker 1 for fourth.

Independence Hall’s win was his third in as many career starts, having broken his maiden at Parx on September 21 before taking the Nashua Stakes (G3) here on November 3. The 3-year-old son of Constitution has now earned $210,000 for co-owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creeks Racing Stables, Kathleen Veratti, and Robert Verratti.

“Jose said it was a bit tiring (on the track),” Trombetta said. “He didn’t get away good, and this probably got to the bottom of him because it’s been two months (since the Nashua). 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.”

Trombetta indicated that Independence Hall will head south to Florida and target the Tampa Bay Downs prep races, beginning with the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) on February 8.

“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,” he said. “It could be the Sam F. Davis. It’s on the radar in five weeks. But the intent after today was to head south.”

Independence Hall returned $2.20 to win and $2.10 to place. Prince of Pharoahs and Bourbon Bay each brought back $2.10 to place. There was no show betting.

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