By NYRA Press Staff: Jerome Quotes:
Michael Trombetta, winning trainer of Independence Hall (No. 3, $2.20*): “I thought it was good. Jose [Ortiz] said it was a bit tiring. He didn’t get away good, and this probably got to the bottom of him because it’s been two months. This is a different track than he ran on last time [winning the Grade 3 Nashua on November 3]. I’m just glad to get through it and it’s one more step in the direction we want to go.
“Truthfully, even if he didn’t win and he was a little vulnerable, if he did things right and was still well, that’s horse racing. As hard as it is to take sometimes, I would have been good with it. Everyone knows what our goals are and we’re trying to get there one step at a time.
“I’ll talk to the partners but I think the plan will be next week to head down to Tampa and train down there and get out of this weather and get him ready for the next step. It could be the Sam F. Davis [on February 8], it’s on the radar in five weeks. But the intent was after today was to head south.”
On Independence Hall acting up before the race: “We schooled him and he schooled well, but he’s obviously different in the afternoon when he comes over. He’s smart enough to know it’s time to do something. I’m going to have to keep working on that. He’s a lot bigger and stronger than us. My guys did a great job and it can be hard to deal with him when they’re like that. We schooled him here Monday and he was great. He knows the difference. We’ll keep working with it.”
Jose Ortiz, winning rider aboard Independence Hall (No. 3): “He had a lot of energy here in the paddock, but last time he was like that too on the racetrack. Today, as soon as I got to the pony, he was very nice and relaxed. He broke a bit slow today because he wasn’t standing the right way.
“It was a small field and I was able to put him in the clear. I didn’t want to get stuck in behind horses today and try to be a hero. I got the opportunity to ride him like he was the best horse and I did.
“From the quarter pole to the wire he did very well. He didn’t look like he did last time, but these are a little better horses and I think the track is very tiring today.
“I thought Manny [Franco, aboard No. 6 Celtic Striker] had some speed coming out of sprint races, but it was a six-horse field and I was going to take what they gave me.”
On going two-turns: “It’s a question mark. We hope he can do it. He’s a big, strong horse. He looks like he can do it, we just have to wait and see.”
Winning margin: Four lengths
Final time (one mile): 1:37.27
Fractions: 23.79; 47.47; 1:12.54
Full order of finish: 3- 1,7 (DH)-6-5-4