The $150,000 Nashua Stakes (G3) on Sunday at Aqueduct could have been easy to overlook in the aftermath of Breeders’ Cup World Championships weekend. But Independence Hall has ensured the race won’t go unnoticed by delivering a record-shattering performance.
Coming off of an easy debut victory at Parx Racing on September 21, Independence Hall obliterated eight rivals in the one-mile test for two-year-olds. Sent off at 9-1, the son of Constitution employed pace-tracking tactics under jockey Jose Ortiz, racing in second place as Spycraft posted fast fractions of :22.68, and :45.55.
Rounding the far turn, Independence Hall seized the lead and opened up a two-length advantage through six furlongs in 1:10.24. From there, the colt finished powerfully despite weaving around down the homestretch, sprinting the final quarter-mile in a rapid :24.42 to win by 12 1/4 lengths.
Meru, who was squeezed and steadied at the start, rallied gamely to finish second, but was no match for the winner. Chase Tracker and Famished likewise rallied from far behind to round out the top four and flatter the performance of Independence Hall, who was the only speed horse to survive the intense early pace.
And not only did he survive, he thrived. Independence Hall’s margin of victory was a record for the Nashua Stakes, while his final time of 1:34.66 easily bettered the previous stakes record of 1:35.32 established by Violence in 2012.
“I wouldn’t imagine that any of my horses could do that. I thought this was a great group that was assembled and it was an intimidating bunch of horses, actually,” winning trainer Michael Trombetta told the New York Racing Association. “For him to come up and run this well, I don’t have the words to describe it.”
Ortiz was full of praise for the undefeated colt, who was produced from the Cape Town mare Kalahari Cat.
“Very impressive. He looked very good first time out. I was there at Parx when he broke his maiden,” said Ortiz. “I was very excited about riding him today. Mike told me the first time out that the only thing he didn’t do well was break. Today, he broke really clean and I had to go ahead with him. When I went to the crop at the quarter-pole I knew the race was done. I don’t think any other two-year-old out there can kick like him. He seems special.”
Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creeks Racing Stables, and Kathleen and Robert Veratti, Independence Hall is based at the Fair Hill training center in Maryland, but may return to Aqueduct for the December 7 Remsen Stakes (G2), a points race on the 2019-20 Road to the Kentucky Derby.
“We’ll see how he is and talk to the owners and come up with a plan for him,” Trombetta said. “This is a great conversation to have. This was a step in the right direction.”