December 6, 2022

Independence Hall makes all in Fayette

Independence Hall wins the Fayette Stakes (Photo by Coady Photography)

In his pre-race study of Saturday’s $200,000 Fayette S. (G2) at Keeneland, jockey Javier Castellano noted the lack of apparent speed in the 1 1/8-mile fixture for older horses, especially following the scratch of Sleepy Eyes Todd, who had drawn post 1.

Castellano filled that vacuum aboard Independence Hall, who came out running from post 4 and found a favorable position on the inside. Chased all the way by Code of Honor, Independence Hall turned back a bid from that rival in upper stretch and opened up late to win by 7 1/4 lengths over a sloppy track.

“I thought the key today was break good out the gate, dictate the pace, and go wire-to-wire,” Castellano said.

Trained by Michael McCarthy, Independence Hall covered the distance in 1:50.30 and paid $9 as the 7-2 third choice in a field of eight. The four-year-old colt is owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creeks Racing Stables, WinStar Farm, Kathleen Verratti, and Robert Verratti.

Code of Honor finished one length ahead of 9-5 favorite King Fury, who was followed by Night Ops, Militarist, Manhattan Up, Major Fed, and Fort Peck.

Independence Hall kicked off his career with three straight victories, but had been winless in stakes company since back-to-back scores in the 2019 Nashua (G3) and 2020 Jerome S. Since joining the McCarthy barn last season, Independence Hall had placed in three of six stakes appearances, finishing third in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) and Californian (G2), and second to Knicks Go in the Oct. 2 Lukas Classic (G3) at Churchill Downs. His record now stands at 13-5-2-2, $874,000.

Bred in Kentucky by Woodford Thoroughbreds and a $100,000 Keeneland September buy, Independence Hall is by Constitution and out of Kalahari Cat, by Cape Town. He’s a half-brother to Grade 3 winner Black Onyx.

Bryan Station S.

The final grass race of the year in Kentucky, the $150,000 Bryan Station S. for three-year-olds, went to Camp Hope, who followed up an impressive allowance score earlier in the Keeneland meet with a 2 3/4-length triumph under Brian Hernandez Jr.

A rating second behind Dreamer’s Disease until the far turn, Camp Home seized control before the quarter pole and won with plenty left over Like the King. The latter finished two lengths clear of Yes This Time.

Owned by Walking L Thoroughbreds and trained by Kenny McPeek, Camp Hope paid $7 as the 5-2 favorite. He covered one mile on soft ground in 1:38.32.

Camp Hope, whose only previous stakes attempt was a 12th-place finish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), has improved significantly since being switched to the grass over the summer. After running third twice, at Saratoga and Kentucky Downs, the son of Summer Front stormed to a 5 1/4-length win allowance win going nine furlongs on Oct. 8.

“I’m questioning why I hadn’t run him on the grass sooner. This horse has really come into form this fall, and I think turf’s definitely all the difference,” McPeek said.

Bred in Kentucky by Bret Jones and sold for $200,000 as a Fasig-Tipton July yearling, Camp Hope is out of Praising, by Pulpit. His record now stands at 9-3-0-2, $225,557.

Bowman Mill S.

Nakatomi broke his maiden in the slop during the Keeneland spring meet, and caught those favorable conditions again on Saturday when wearing down slight 2-1 favorite My Prankster to take the $150,000 Bowman Mill S. over six furlongs.

Ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, Nakatomi won by three parts of a length from My Prankster, who finished eight lengths clear of Chattalot. The winning time was 1:10.33.

Owned by Qatar Racing, Marc Detampel, and Bottle Rocket Stable, the Wesley Ward-trained Nakatomi was winning for the first time since that career-opening success on April 14 going 4 1/2 furlongs.

“This is his home track. All my horses, when we run here at Keeneland – because we train here year-round – they kind of take it up a notch or two, which he did today,” Ward said.

Eighth in the Norfolk (G2) at Royal Ascot subsequently, Nakatomi later finished third in the Saratoga Special (G2) and second to Chattalot in an Oct. 1 allowance at Churchill Downs. He’s now earned $175,400.

A $25,000 Fasig-Tipton October yearling, the gelded Nakatomi is by Firing Line and out of Applelicious, by Flatter. He was bred in Kentucky by Arnold Zetcher and Crestwood Farm.