02/22/2013 4:14PM

Fair Grounds: Departing leaving for Sam Houston to prep for Louisiana Derby

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Louis Hodges Jr.
Departing may use the one-mile Texas Heritage Stakes at Sam Houston next weekend as a prep for the Louisiana Derby.

NEW ORLEANS – Departing was to be scratched from the Risen Star Stakes on Saturday because of a wide post-position draw, trainer Al Stall said.

Departing will be redirected to Sam Houston Park, where he’ll start next weekend in the $50,000 Texas Heritage Stakes over one mile and around two turns. Were Departing to perform impressively in that spot, the timing would be favorable for him to come back in the Louisiana Derby here at Fair Grounds on March 30.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Departing drew post 14 last Monday when the Risen Star field was assembled. The connections of one horse in the race’s main body, He’s Had Enough, chose to run instead in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park, but – barring late scratches – Departing still would have broken from the 13 post. In the last five racing seasons, no Fair Grounds races at the Risen Star’s 1 1/16-mile distance have gone with 14 starters. Horses breaking from post 13 have gone 1 for 2 at the distance, while post-12 starters have fared surprisingly well, going 3 for 8.

Departing, a War Front gelding bred and owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, debuted with a sprint maiden win Dec. 22 at Fair Grounds. Stretched to two turns in a Feb. 1 first-level allowance race, Departing won by 4 1/2 lengths and galloped out strongly past the finish.