Remsen 'on the radar' for breakout colt Independence Hall

November 07, 2019 11:07am
Remsen 'on the radar' for breakout colt Independence Hall
Photo: Elsa Lorieul/NYRA

Whether Independence Hall’s 12 1/4-length score in last Sunday’s Nashua Stakes (G3) was a fluke or a sign that he as a legitimate Kentucky Derby hopeful, Michael Trombetta will patiently wait to find out.

“Hopefully it’s the second one,” the trainer said this week, reflecting on a performance by the Constitution colt that registered a 101 Beyer Speed Figure, best so far for the 2-year-old crop.

Independence Hall pressed the pace and took over through the turn. Then, once into the stretch, jockey Jose Ortiz had to ask little as his mount took off to win for fun. Others on or near the early lead faded to miss the board in a victory that left Trombetta short on words.

“The surprise comes from how easily he won a race that had, what I believe, a bunch of other horses with good talent,” Trombetta added. “We have confidence in him that he’s a nice enough colt, but to win the way he did, obviously that was the exciting part.”

Trombetta has plenty of connections to consider when making a next race decision. After Independence Hall broke his maiden with ease Sept. 21 at Parx Racing — on the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) undercard — Eclipse Thoroughbred Parters and twin Creeks Racing Stables purchased shares from original owners Kathleen and Robert Verratti.

The Remsen Stakes (G2) runs back at Aqueduct on Dec. 7, and Trombetta said that race is “certainly on the radar.” It offers qualifying points toward the 2020 Derby on a 10-4-2-1 basis to the Top 4 finishers.

Then as the weather becomes less than ideal for training, Trombetta will ship his string from Maryland’s Fair Hill training center to Gulfstream Park.

“I would imagine we could stay up north a little while longer and make some decisions on where to go from there,” he said. “It’s all brand new, and it’s exciting.”

Trombetta saddled his second Derby starter, and the first since Sweetnorthernsaint finished seventh as the favorite in 2006, earlier this season. Win Win Win was placed ninth, then closed his season by winning on turf in Belmont Park’s July 4 Manila Stakes.

“I try not to get caught up in that stuff until it really, really does matter,” Trombetta said of the Derby trail. “It’s very early in the whole process. I’m glad to be where I am. We take it a race at a time.”

Win Win Win emerged in January as a record-setting victor of Tampa Bay Downs’ Pasco Stakes. That Independence Hall had his stakes breakout earlier was a bit due to chance.

Trombetta had shipped Independence Hall for a softer spot than the Nashua, an allowance race at Laurel Park, but a water line break forced the Maryland track to cancel its card. Connections rerouted to take their shot in the Nashua, picking up jockey Jose Ortiz.

Few instructions were given to the rider beforehand, but Trombetta informed that, “He had an inside post in his first start. He didn’t break amazingly sharp, but he broke OK. That would maybe be the only thing he could stand there and improve upon is breaking alertly,” the trainer remembered.

“I just said, ‘Be ready for that,’ and he broke really well. He jumped right into the race.”

"When I went to the crop at the quarter-pole, I knew the race was done," Ortiz said on race day. "I don't think any other 2-year-old out there can kick like him. He seems special."


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