09/08/2013 11:06AM

Louisiana Downs: Departing targets Oklahoma Derby

Hodge Photography/Lou Hodges Jr.
Departing wins the Grade 2 Super Derby by four lengths as the 1-5 favorite Saturday.

BOSSIER CITY, La. – Departing will close out his 3-year-old season in the Grade 3, $400,000 Oklahoma Derby, trainer Al Stall Jr. said Sunday, one day after the gelding cruised to a four-length win in the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.

Departing, who earlier this year won the West Virginia and Illinois derbies, earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 104 for his Super Derby win. He emerged from the race in excellent condition, Stall said, and will remain at Louisiana Downs to train up to the Oklahoma Derby. The newly graded 1 1/8-mile race will be run at Remington Park on Sept. 29.

“It’s a great fit,” Stall said. “It’s a Grade 3, the money is good, and geographically, it works out. If he’s ready, we’ll be there.”

Stall said the Oklahoma Derby would be the final start of 2013 for Departing.

“He’s going to get a breather, with a goal of being, hopefully, a top handicap horse next year,” he said.

Departing ran to his 1-5 favoritism in the Super Derby. He stalked the pace, engaged the leaders in the stretch, and went on to win in hand under Robby Albarado. Departing covered the 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.08.

The win came one start after Departing romped by 8 3/4 lengths in the West Virginia Derby. Stall said after that race that he felt Departing was an improving horse heading into the Super Derby, and Departing’s performance Saturday backed up that evaluation. 

“I like the way he traveled the first turn, better than he’d done in the Illinois Derby and the West Virginia Derby,” Stall said. “I also like that his head wasn’t quite up in the air looking around towards the end. So, I saw a lot of mental progress in [Saturday’s] race.

“He’s getting very consistent. He breaks, he lays comfortable. You can see the rider’s got him in his hands. He creeps up in hand, and he kicks it. And he’s learning to kick it a little better, too.”

Departing gave Stall his third win in the Super Derby, a record among trainers. The horse also was the third Super Derby winner for Adele Dilschneider, who races Departing in partnership with Claiborne Farm. She won the race with the Stall trainee Apart in 2010 and with Claiborne back in 1998 with Arch. Stall’s other Super Derby winner was My Pal Charlie in 2008.

Departing, by War Front, has won 6 of 8 starts and $1.3 million. He was bred by Claiborne and Dilschneider.