August 8, 2022

Independence Hall the one to beat in eight-horse Sam F. Davis

Independence Hall rolled to a four-length win in the Jerome at Aqueduct (c) Chelsea Durand/Coglianese Photography

A convincing winner in all three starts, Independence Hall will look to keep building his Kentucky Derby credentials when he lines up for Saturday’s $250,000 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs. The 1 1/16-mile race marks the first two-turn start for the well-built son of Constitution, and Jose Ortiz retains the mount for trainer Michael Trombetta.

As part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, the Davis offers points toward on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers. Independence Hall already picked 10 points toward a Derby berth when posting a four-length romp in the one-mile Jerome at Aqueduct on New Year’s Day.

The dark bay colt captured the Nashua (G3) the second time out in early November, registering a field-best 101 Brisnet Speed rating for the 12-length thrashing, and Independence Hall has raced up close from the start in both stakes attempts. He looms as the probably odd-on favorite against seven challengers in the Davis.

Premier Star appears likely to be showing the way in his stakes and two-turn debut. A convincing winner in both career starts at Gulfstream Park this winter, the Jorge Navarro-trained son of Tapiture led wire-to-wire when crushing entry-level allowance foes by a 5 1/4-length margin at 7-furlongs on Jan. 15. John Velazquez picks up the mount on the chestnut colt.

Remsen (G2) runner-up Ajaaweed will return to action for Kiaran McLaughlin. Fourth to well-regarded Maxfield in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) two back, the Shadwell Stable homebred son of Curlin could not catch a loose-on-the-lead winner over a speed-favoring track last time, but he ran well to miss by a half-length. Joel Rosario has the assignment.

Sole Vante will make his second dirt start for Patrick Biacone following an encouraging effort in the Jan. 4 Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream, posting a 100 Brisnet Speed figure for the rallying third, and Luca Panici will be in to ride the Karakontie colt. Chapula switches to dirt in his 3-year-old opener. A turf maiden scorer at Keeneland, the Arnold Delacour trainee exits a wire-to-wire tally in the Grey (G3) over Woodbine’s Tapeta track in late November.

Pasco runner-up Albert Hall and third-placer No Getting Over Me are also entered. Gulfstream winner Tiz Rye Time completes the field.