Independence Hall has a new Kentucky Derby 2020 prep option

January 13, 2020 11:33am
Independence Hall has a new Kentucky Derby 2020 prep option
Photo: Chelsea Durand/NYRA

Independence Hall, an undefeated colt who’s among the early 2020 Kentucky Derby favorites, submitted his first published work Monday at his new winter home.

Relocated to Tampa Bay Downs since winning the Jan. 1 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct, the son of Constitution breezed an easy half mile in 50.60 seconds as trainer Michael Trombetta plots a course toward his next prep.

“Generally, the big races aren’t on a Wednesday,” Trombetta said, looking back at the Jerome that’s traditionally run on New Year’s Day. “So now I’m just trying to rotate his schedule back around a bit to where I do some of the heavier duty stuff on the weekends.”

“That’s all we wanted,” he added of the workout time, with another drill to come as soon as Sunday.

Independence Hall moved his record to 3-for-3 in the Jerome, overcoming difficulties in the paddock and a slow break from the gate. He topped an overmatched field in New York by four lengths on the back of a 12 1/4-length victory at the same course/distance in the Nov. 3 Nashua Stakes (G3).

As the weeks go on, Trombetta said he’ll continue discussing race spots with owners that include Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creeks Racing Stables and Kathleen and Robert Verratti.

The 1 1/16-mile Sam F. Davis (G3), Tampa Bay Downs’ first prep, was mentioned initially after the Jerome. It will pay out points on a 10-4-2-1 basis to its Top 4 finishers on Feb. 8.

A week later, however, Fair Grounds’ hosts the Risen Star (G2) going 1 1/8 miles. Its points are structured on a 50-20-10-5 scale, essentially guaranteeing its winner a spot in the Derby starting gate with time to run in another prep before the first Saturday in May.

“All these things are being kicked around in conversation with the owners group,” Trombetta said. “When we get a little further down the line, we’ll circulate some harder decisions.”

Eclipse and Twin Creeks bought into Independence Hall after his debut, a victory on Parx Racing’s Sept. 21 Pennsylvania Derby (G1) undercard. Through the Jerome, the colt did the bulk of his training at Fair Hill in Maryland, where dirt and all-weather track options are available.

“He’s been there four or five days,” Trombetta said of Tampa Bay Downs. “He’s settled in OK. I just want to try to get him on his regular routine. It’s quite a difference in weather down here to up there, but he seems to have handled it fine.”

William Hill U.S. bumped Independence Hall to 10-1 second choice in its Kentucky Derby futures after the Jerome behind only the Grade 1 winner Tiz the Law, who’s 8-1.


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