Departing at Pimlico on May 16.<br><a target="blank" href="!i=2516000772&k=hfbp7nk">Order This Photo</a>

Departing at Pimlico on May 16.
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Anne M. Eberhardt

Departing Sees Pimlico for First Time

Illinois Derby winner arrived May 15 after first plane trip of career.

Illinois Derby (gr. III) winner Departing got his first taste of Pimlico Race Course the morning of May 16 by galloping 1 1/2 miles under exercise rider Trina Pasckvale.

Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider's homebred gelding, a four-time winner from five starts with a third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), will break from post 4 under Brian Hernandez, Jr., in the May 18 Preakness Stakes (gr. I).

"There were a lot of tents out there in the infield for him to look at and that kept his mind occupied a bit. He has been tough on Trina the past few days," trainer Al Stall Jr. told the Preakness notes team.

Departing had flown to Pimlico from Churchill Downs the previous day, marking the gelding's first plane trip. The homebred son of War Front  had been sent via van to Sam Houston Race Park where he won the Texas Heritage Stakes, and then to the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Racecourse.

"He got a little stirred up on the plane, but not in a bad way," Stall said. "He dropped his head when he got here and he was fine. I am glad we shipped yesterday and not Thursday or Friday.

"He did not have a lot of trouble in the Louisiana Derby," Stall said. "It is like going from the college game to the pros, except for RG III or Andrew Luck. Everything is a little faster and the holes were moving a little faster than he was.

"In the Illinois Derby, he took Brian where he needed to go. I think the extra ground (a sixteenth of a mile farther than the 1 1/8-mile Illinois Derby) will help him. There is plenty of gas in the tank."

Stall said that Departing would go to the track at 6:30 a.m. Friday, May 17.