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Departing captures Illinois Derby for Claiborne, Dilschneider
By Nicole Russo
Homebred Departing carried the famed gold silks of Claiborne Farm to victory in the Grade 3 Illinois Derby Saturday at Hawthorne, becoming the latest graded stakes winner for the farm and partner Adele B. Dilschneider.
The 3-year-old gelding, bred and raced in partnership by Claiborne and Dilschneider, scored his fourth career victory from five starts, and his first graded stakes victory. The son of Claiborne stallion War Front was a listed stakes winner in Texas earlier this year, then entered the Illinois Derby off a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on March 30.
Departing is out of Leave, a daughter of the late Claiborne sire Pulpit. All three of the mare's foals to race are winners.
Out of the stakes-winning Forty Niner mare Tour, Leave is a full sister to stakes winner Laity, as well as a half-sister to stakes winner Joke, the dam of multiple Grade 1 winner and Hill ‘n’ Dale stallion Zensational; and stakes winner and producer Trip.
Tour is a full sister to stakes winner Flight Forty Nine, and a half-sister to stakes winner and multiple stakes producer Pink Shoes; stakes-placed Got the Goods; and stakes producers Special One and Bridge to Cross.
Although the Illinois Derby is not a qualifying race on Churchill Downs’ Road to the Kentucky Derby series, Departing accumulated 20 points with his third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby, which would place him near the cutoff point among the top 20 contenders with two weeks remaining before the May 4 classic. Early indications from Departing’s connections, however, have the gelding skipping the Derby, with the Preakness Stakes on May 18 as a possible target.
"There's no use talking about the Preakness until we see what happens in the Kentucky Derby," trainer Al Stall, Jr., said. "There are some good horses there. If they do their thing and scare everybody off, we might do something differently. But, right now we're going to enjoy this win and ride it out."
War Front will be represented in the Derby by Lines of Battle, who won the U.A.E. Derby on March 30.