11/19/2015 3:38PM

Departing lends star power to Delta Mile

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Departing, winner of the Firecracker Stakes, will start Saturday in the Delta Mile at Delta Downs.

Departing is a major coup for the $250,000 Delta Mile. The earner of $1.7 million lends star power to the race, which is one of seven stakes supporting the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot on Saturday.

The Mile, for 3-year-olds and up, goes with a field of eight, including Rise Up, the winner of the Jackpot in 2013, and Cougar Ridge, attempting to win his fourth straight race.

But none can match the credentials of Departing, one of the most successful offspring of War Front. Departing went on a tear at 3, capturing the Illinois Derby, West Virginia Derby, and Super Derby. He took his show to turf this year at Churchill Downs and won the Grade 2 Firecracker in June. Departing is back on dirt for the Delta Mile off a runner-up finish Sept. 26 in the $175,000 Lukas Classic at Churchill.

“He ran his race,” said Al Stall Jr., who trains Departing for breeders Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider. “If you look at his form, the year before, the race was called the Homecoming Classic, and it’s almost an identical race. The same finish, the same numbers.”

Departing will break from the rail under Colby Hernandez.

“We’re in the 1 hole, and we’re kind of fresh,” said Stall. “He hasn’t run in a while. He acts like he’s going to be forward. I imagine he’ll be stalking or somewhere in there, depending on how everybody breaks.”

Rise Up, who is nearing $1 million in earnings with a bankroll of $993,465, will seek the sixth stakes win of his career Saturday. Gerard Melancon has the mount.

“If he leaves there running, I really like our chances,” said Melancon. “The two races he ran at Delta, he left really good.”

Rise Up is 2 for 2 at Delta, and Melancon was aboard for both of those wins – the Jackpot and the Jean Lafitte.

Tom Amoss trains Rise Up for Paul Van Doren.

:: Delta Downs: Buy PPs, watch Saturday’s card live

** Delta has an all-stakes pick four with a guaranteed pool of $200,000 on Saturday, and the 50-cent-minimum wager opens in the fourth race with the Louisiana Legacy. The $150,000 stakes at a mile is restricted to horses bred in Louisiana. The chief contenders appear to be Our Rapidash, the lone stakes winner in the field; G’s Josh, a recent allowance winner at two turns at Delta; and Sea Vow, who is out of a stakes-winning mare who ran out $261,445. Another in the Legacy, the well-bred maiden Mick, is cross-entered in the first race at Delta.

** The companion race to the Legacy is the $150,000 Louisiana Jewel, and one filly who will get good support is debut winner Zuzor, a daughter of Pioneerof the Nile, the sire of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Among the others set to start is stakes winner Ten Crowns, a half-sister to Vivian Da Bling, a past winner of the My Trusty Cat at Delta.

** Diva’s Diamond, a five-time stakes winner who ran second in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom in April, worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.20 in preparation for the $200,000 Treasure Chest. The move came at Delta, a surface over which she will be racing for the first time Saturday. Colby Hernandez has the mount for trainer Karl Broberg. The Treasure Chest cast also includes Kyriaki, who last out faced Beholder in the Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita, as well as Walk of Stars and Julie’s Jewelry, who were one-two in the Pink Ribbon on Sept. 19 at Charles Town.

** Thirtypiecesofsilver, Nubaldo Bling, and Fusaichi Flame look like chief players in the $75,000 Sam’s Town. The companion race for fillies and mares is the $75,000 Orleans led by shippers My Miss Venezuela and Mayla.