By Molly Rollins BloodHorse
Graded stakes winner Independence Hall returned to the races after a seven-month layoff with a decisive victory in a Nov. 8 allowance optional claimer at Del Mar. The strapping son of Constitution was making his first start since being transferred to the California-based barn of trainer Michael McCarthy.
Previously trained by Michael Trombetta, Independence Hall dominated his first three starts, including an emphatic 12 1/4-length score in the 2019 Nashua Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct Racetrack. With his connections eyeing the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) this year, Independence Hall was stretched out to longer distances, finishing second in the 1 1/16-mile Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) Feb. 8 at Tampa Bay Downs before fading to fifth in the March 28 1 1/8-mile Curlin Florida Derby (G1).
Cut back to 6 1/2 furlongs and facing older horses Sunday, the 6-5 favorite broke alertly under Mike Smith and cruised comfortably off the pace in fifth early behind fractions of :22.58 and :46.23. Swinging three wide to the outside rounding the bend, the dark bay took aim at the leaders, forging clear by 1 1/2 lengths over P R Radio Star. Independence Hall stopped the timer in 1:17.43.
The 3-year-old colt is owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creeks Racing Stables, Kathleen Verratti, and Robert Verratti. Aaron Wellman, the president and founder of Eclipse, indicated that the Dec. 26 Malibu Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park could be the next target for Independence Hall.