SUPER DERBY | PURSE: $500,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | GRADE 3 | 1 1/8 MILE
There's no doubt Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider's homebred 3-year-old Departing is a talented runner, and the bay gelding reinforced that point Sept. 7 when winning the $500,000 Super Derby by four lengths at Harrah's Louisiana Downs.
Coming off a powerful 8 ¾-length victory in the Aug. 3 West Virginia Derby, Departing, by War Front, again dominated rivals with a sweeping move when widening away to take the 1 ⅛-mile test under jockey Robby Albarado.
Final time for the distance was 1:50.08 as the 3-10 favorite in a field of seven became a third Super Derby winner for trainer Al Stall Jr. The Louisiana native won the race in 2008 with B. Wayne Hughes' My Pal Charlie and in 2010 with Apart for the same connections as this year's winner.
Departing was up closer to the pace than has been his running style. In the West Virginia Derby he made steady progress from seventh to fifth to second at the quarter mile markers. In the Illinois Derby which he won in April, he came from even farther back when ninth in the field of 14 at the quarter and just eighth at the half, before making a sweeping run through the far turn.
This time, however, Albarado put the bay gelding in a good stalking spot fifth on the outside as 16-1 shot Ruler of Love showed the way for an opening quarter in :23.76. Departing had already moved up to third as the front-runner went a half in :49.29, with Cameo Appearance 1 ½ lengths behind.
Departing began his bold winning move into the far turn, with Ruler of Love relinquishing the lead after three-quarters in 1:13.35. The tiring pacesetter matched strides briefly but provided no contest as Departing switched leads and put him away at the eighth pole after a mile in 1:36.99, then drove steadily clear.
Departing returned $2.60, $2.10, and $2.10 while Ruler of Love brought $5.80 and $4 in second and Cameo Appearance held to pay $3.60 for third. Treasury Bill, Runaway Stephen, Bashaar, and Holiday Mischief completed the order of finish. All carried 124 pounds.
The Super Derby was a fourth win on the card for Albarado, who took the first on Bulldozer Brent, the sixth on Natty Boh, and the $100,000 River City Stakes on Grandma's Rules.
Departing's share of the purse, $300,000, pushed his earnings to $1,379,500. Bred in Kentucky out of the Pulpit mare Leave, he has now won six of eight starts, including a victory in the Texas Heritage Stakes. He was third in the Louisiana Derby, and his only finish off the board was a sixth in the Preakness Stakes.