05/12/2013 8:55AM

Preakness Stakes: Departing has final breeze

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Departing won the Grade 3 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne on April 20, making him a contender for Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Departing, one of the top threats to Orb in the 138th Preakness Stakes, had his final workout for the race when going a very easy half-mile in 50.40 seconds on a beautiful Sunday morning at Churchill Downs.

With retired jockey Larry Melancon in the irons, Departing never was encouraged to get out of a swift gallop and actually sustained his momentum another quarter-mile or so past the wire when eager to catch a horse who happened to be well ahead of him. Churchill clockers caught him going out five furlongs in 1:03.80 over the fast going.

“This is all he needs,” said Al Stall Jr., who trains Departing for owners and breeders Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider. “He’s been galloping so strong every morning.”

Departing, a gelding by War Front, enters the Preakness on Saturday off a 3 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Illinois Derby on April 20 at Hawthorne in suburban Chicago.

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Asked what kind of chance he believes Departing has of spoiling the Triple Crown bid of Orb, with whom Departing once shared a paddock at Claiborne, Stall said: “What are we going to be, 4-1? 6-1? That kind of sums it up, I guess.”

Stall said he has been extremely happy with the way Departing has trained since his last race. The Sunday work was his second since his Hawthorne win, following a very similar half-mile breeze in 49 seconds here May 2.

Along with other Churchill horses headed to Pimlico for races this weekend, Departing is booked on a Wednesday charter flight that will originate in Southern California. The flight is scheduled to leave Louisville, Ky., at about noon Eastern, meaning the horses should arrive at Baltimore-Washington International Airport about 90 minutes later and then at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore by mid-afternoon.

Orb, a 2 1/2-length winner of the May 4 Kentucky Derby, figures to be a solid favorite in the Preakness.

As of Sunday morning, Pimlico is listing 10 3-year-olds as probable for the 1 3/16-mile classic: Departing, Goldencents, Govenor Charlie, Itsmyluckyday, Mylute, Orb, Oxbow, Titletown Five, Vyjack, and Will Take Charge.