He ran perhaps the most impressive mile of any juvenile in 2019, and on the day he and thousands of other Thoroughbreds celebrate their third birthday, Independence Hall will look to provide an encore in Wednesday’s $150,000 Jerome S. at Aqueduct.
Two months after demolishing eight foes when taking the Nashua (G3) over the same track and distance by 12 1/4 lengths in a stakes-record 1:34.66 and earning a 101 Brisnet Speed Rating, Independence Hall will be a prohibitive favorite in the Jerome, the first point scoring opportunity of the year in the 2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
“We’re real pleased with how he’s doing coming into this race,” said trainer Michael Trombetta. “That was a real big effort he gave in the Nashua and we’ve given him a lot of time to recover since then.
“Part of the plan in returning to Aqueduct for this race was the comfort level in him having run already at the track. We believe this race will be a good place to start in kicking off his campaign before we head south to continue our plans in mapping out the year.”
Only one other horse in the field, Inside Risk, has any prior stakes experience, and neither try was remotely positive. Claimed for $50,000 from his debut win at Saratoga, Inside Risk subsequently trailed in both the Hopeful (G1) and Grey (G3).
While Polar Bear Pete will look to improve off an allowance third to the promising Three Technique, the remainder of the Jerome field likely to snare a piece of the purse are exiting maiden wins. Prince of Pharoahs, a son of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, did so by five lengths against New York-bred company. Bourbon Bay also broke his maiden against state-breds, while Celtic Strike led throughout in his graduation facing open company at Monmouth Park in late October in the slop.
The Jerome will aboard Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers. It’s the seventh of eight races on Aqueduct’s New Year’s Day card, with post time at approximately 3:55 p.m. (EST).