INDEPENDENCE HALL Starts 3-Year Old Campaign in the Jerome
Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Basketballs bounce. So can bank accounts.

You can also add race horses to that list, especially if you adhere to one of the key philosophies espoused by the speed figure crafters at Ragozin Thoroughbred Data.

For a horse, a "bounce" comes into play after an equine athlete turns in an especially fast and improved performance. It entails a regression in the horse's next start, unless it gets some extra rest before its next start.

All of which explains why trainer Michael Trombetta opted to enter the highly promising Independence Hall in the $150,000 Jerome Stakes for sophomores Jan. 1 at Aqueduct Racetrack. Without question, the soon-to-turn 3-year-old son of Constitution is coming off a performance two months ago that can be described as especially fast and improved.

Originally owned by Kathleen and Robert N. Verratti, Independence Hall registered a sharp 4 3/4-length win in a Sept. 21 maiden race at Parx Racing that caught the eye of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners president and founder Aron Wellman and Twin Creeks Racing Stable of Randy Gullatt and Steve Davison. They bought shares of the precocious colt and eagerly awaited his next start, which came Nov. 3 in the $150,000 Nashua Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct. 

Davison, co-owner of the Ragozin service, and Gullatt had a particular interest in Independence Hall as they raced Constitution and have breeding rights to WinStar Farm's popular first-crop sire of 2019. Their hopes were met—and then some—when the dark bay colt raised his game to a new level. He simply demolished his eight rivals in the one-turn, mile stakes, romping to a 12 1/4-length victory in the scintillating stakes-record time of 1:34.66.

The new expectations led to handicappers backing Independence Hall to the tune of 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."

Yet the colt's connections, mindful of the "bounce," were more than willing to be patient, resist any temptation to run Independence Hall in the two-turn Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct Dec. 7, and point 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."

While a "bounce" is often inevitable, there's one other adage about the phenomenon that may come into play on Day 1 of the 2020 racing season. Sometimes a horse is so much faster than its competition that it can "bounce" and still win—and that could be the case in the Jerome.

Unless one of the other six newly turned turned 3-year-olds takes a quantum jump, they will need a dramatically sub-par effort by Independence Hall to catch him.

Meanwhile, Trombetta believes Independence Hall is coming into the stakes in a smart fashion.

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

As for what's next, Trombetta said Independence Hall will head to Florida where his Triple Crown aspirations will finally 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, who rode Independence Hall for the first time in the Nashua, will break from post 3 with the likely odds-on choice at post time.


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