Departing to End Season in Oklahoma Derby
Trainer Al Stall Jr. said the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby (gr. III) at Remington Park Sept. 29 will be the last start of the season for Departing, winner of the Sept. 7 Super Derby (gr. II) last time out.
The 3-year-old War Front gelding will be making his eighth outing of 2013 in the 1 1/8-mile test, and looks to add the Oklahoma Derby to a list of five conquests including the West Virginia Derby (gr. II), Illinois Derby (gr. III), and Texas Heritage Stakes.
"This will be his last start of the year," Stall said Sept. 24. "He's a gelding, and if he's good enough to be considered for the Breeders' Cup as a 3-year-old, he's good enough to be in it as a 4-year-old."
Departing won the Super Derby by four lengths and took the West Virginia Derby by 8 3/4 lengths. His Illinois Derby victory also came handily, by 3 1/4 lengths over 13 others earlier in the season.
He has a record of six wins and a third from eight starts, with earnings of $1,379,500. His only off-the-board finish came in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), in which he ran sixth.
"He won his first three starts and was third in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), so it's not like this is a big surprise that he's competitive in the second-tier derbies," Stall said.
Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider's homebred runner worked Sept. 22 at Louisiana Downs, going four furlongs in :48 2/5.
"We left him down there because it's an easy ship from Louisiana Downs to Oklahoma City, and the climates are pretty much the same," Stall said from Kentucky. "Shipping from there is quite a bit easier, and the plane that was supposed to go to Oklahoma from here actually fell through again, so if we'd brought him back here he would have had a much longer ship to deal with."
Departing also made an unusual appearance between races Sept. 21 at the Shreveport track.
"They canceled training Saturday morning because they had some serious storms Friday evening," Stall said. "We were going to breeze on Sunday and said, 'We really need to train the horse,' and they were nice enough to let us do that between races. That went great and the breeze was good; everything's on schedule."
Stall said the bay gelding will return to Kentucky after the Oklahoma Derby and could then be turned out locally or in South Carolina. He said he believes Departing will continue to improve at 4 "and as a 5-year-old and maybe a 6-year-old, don't forget about that."
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