Marty McGee DRF Feb 06, 2020
OLDSMAR, Fla. – For a moment there, it looked like Independence Hall might’ve been a 1-5 shot when the Sam F. Davis is run Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.
But with the connections of Ajaaweed and Premier Star choosing the Davis over other Kentucky Derby preps, Independence Hall might well have to work harder than ever to remain unbeaten.
“I’m fine with that,” said Mike Trombetta, who trains Independence Hall for Eclipse Thoroughbreds, Twin Creeks Racing, and Bob and Kathleen Verrutti. “I didn’t want to be 1-5 anyway. Everything gets harder as you go along the Derby trail. This is shaping up as a legitimate test and we’d love to see him pass it.”
With Jose Ortiz back to ride, Independence Hall is the 6-5 favorite on the Tampa morning line. The dark bay Constitution colt will break from post 4 in a field of eight 3-year-olds in the 40th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Sam Davis, the lone Derby qualifier of the weekend. The 1 1/16-mile Davis goes as the 11th of 12 races on a Festival Preview Day card that starts at 12:12 p.m. Eastern. Post time for the Davis is 5:29.
The Davis is among the last 17-point preps (10-4-2-1), along with the Feb. 15 El Camino Real at Golden Gate Fields and Feb. 17 Southwest at Oaklawn Park. All other races will offer higher point values.
After winning his first three starts by a combined 21 lengths, Independence Hall has become one of the early favorites for the May 2 Derby. His handy running style seems adaptable to most any situation, and with an ample amount of speed among his seven Saturday rivals, Trombetta is confident Ortiz can work out a good trip.
“This horse will do anything,” he said. “Very generic – you just want to get away well and put yourself in good position.