Independence Hall maintained his perfect record on wet tracks Saturday, leading the whole way and winning by 6 3/4 lengths in the 64th running of the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes, the closing-day feature at Keeneland.
"He loves the slop," jockey Javier Castellano said. "He splashed along, and he carried himself."
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Trained by Michael McCarthy and ridden by Castellano, Independence Hall (7-2) finished well clear of the Code of Honor (2-1), who was second throughout the race. The favorite King Fury (9-5) was another 1 1/4 lengths behind in third, and Night Ops (9-2) finished fourth, 10 1/4 lengths up the track from the winner in a field of eight open-company starters.
With Code of Honor hounding him until mid-stretch, Independence Hall established early fractions of 24.24, 48.38, 1:12.45 and 1:37.05 on the way to a winning time of 1:50.30 for the 1 1/8 miles on a track rated sloppy from Saturday rain. Independence Hall is 3-for-3 on off tracks.
If Independence Hall was going to have any company on the early lead, it would have come from Sleepy Eyes Todd. That was before the 5-year-old horse was scratched because of the condition of the track.
"Everything changed today the way I handicapped the race," Castellano told Keeneland TV after the race. "I didn't see too much speed after Sleepy Eyes Todd scratched. I had to make an adjustment myself. If you put the horse in a good position, a forward position, he can carry himself all the way on this track. The key today was to break good out of the gate. If I don't see much speed, I could dictate the pace and go wire to wire."
Independence Hall is owned by a group led by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. The 4-year-old Constitution colt was bred by Woodford Thoroughbreds of Kentucky and sold at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $100,000.
Once the Kentucky Derby futures favorite on the strength of his victory in the 2020 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct, Independence Hall was transferred last spring from East Coast trainer Mike Trombetta to McCarthy.