05/15/2013 3:37PM

Preakness Stakes: Departing heads newcomers to Triple Crown scene

Barbara D. Livingston
Despite his Illinois Derby victory, Departing was not pressed into a Kentucky Derby start.

BALTIMORE – The talent Departing has shown in winning 4 of 5 career starts figures to make him the shortest price among the three newcomers joining the Triple Crown fray Saturday in the Grade  1, $1 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. ­Govenor Charlie and Titletown Five are the only other members of the projected field of nine who did not run in the Kentucky Derby.

[2013 PREAKNESS STAKES: Latest news, video, and more]

Departing’s connections could have made the case on a couple of occasions this spring for running the War Front gelding in the Kentucky Derby. In the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby on March 30, he finished a creditable third to Revolutionary. One start later, Departing turned in a tour-de-force performance in the Grade 3, $750,000 Illinois Derby on April 20. But instead of pushing for the Kentucky Derby, owners Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider and trainer Al Stall Jr. bided their time with the developing Departing.

“We just didn’t think after the Louisiana Derby he was ready for the Derby,” Stall said. “The Derby was never really under consideration. We didn’t think he had enough seasoning to run in the Derby. Our interest was in the Preakness all along.”

Departing launched his career Dec. 22 at Fair Grounds, and won a maiden special weight at six furlongs. He proceeded to take a first-level allowance in his two-turn debut Feb. 1, also in New Orleans, before shipping to Sam Houston Race Park in Houston to win the $50,000 Texas Heritage. Departing then suffered his first loss in the Louisiana Derby, but rebounded in the Illinois Derby, which was his first start on Lasix. Departing was forced to take an outside route in the Hawthorne race after breaking from post 13, then drew clear for a 3 1/4-length win in a convincing lead-in to the Preakness.

“The race in the Illinois Derby pumped us up for this,” Stall said. “The way he covered all that extra ground and just won in hand – the way he did it, he earned his way into the Preakness.”

Stall said Departing has continued to develop since that race, and he is hopeful the horse will handle both the ship to Maryland and the Pimlico surface based on how he handled those variables for the Illinois Derby. Departing was to fly into town Wednesday from his base at Churchill Downs.

“He shipped to Hawthorne, no problem,” Stall said. “That gives us confidence to go to a new track, with no experience over it.”

Departing is to be ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., who last year won the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard Fort Larned. Departing will be Stall’s second Preakness starter after seventh-place finisher Terrain in 2009, a horse who raced for Dilschneider.

Govenor Charlie will attempt to give Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his sixth win in the Preakness. But the colt, who was a five-length winner of the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby in his last start March 24, is unlike any of the 13 starters Baffert has previously had in the second leg of the Triple Crown.

“I’ve never run a horse in the Preakness that didn’t run in the Derby,” Baffert said. “I’m in uncharted waters.”

Govenor Charlie, who races for his breeder, Mike Pegram, brings serious speed into the Preakness. He lowered a Sunland Park record that stood for 52 years in the Sunland Derby, when he won the 1 1/8-mile race 1:47.54. The previous mark of 1:48.20 had been held by Winsham Lad.

“It was a tremendous effort by him,” Baffert said. “He separated himself from those horses, ran very fast. He showed that he belongs in that category. He’s a very well-bred horse, was one of the best bred horses in the race, by Midnight Lute out of a Hall of Fame family on the bottom.”

Govenor Charlie’s dam is Silverbulletway, a daughter of Storm Cat and the $3 million earner Silverbulletday.

Following the Sunland Derby, Govenor Charlie became a candidate for the Kentucky Derby. But he had a hiccup not long before he was to leave his Southern California base for Churchill Downs, and ultimately the decision was made to pass the Kentucky Derby.

“I lost a week of training with him,” Baffert said. “I had a hind issue with him in the foot. It really didn’t bother me that much, but to make sure he was 100 percent and that it was just the foot and nothing else, we sent him to the clinic.”

Baffert received clearance from veterinarians to go on with Govenor Charlie, but still passed Derby, a race he has won three times.

“The thing about the Derby, everything has to flow,” Baffert said. “The horse has to bring you to the Derby. They have to get there. All my Derby winners, the horse, they bring you there, and they’re ready, and there’s no bumps in the road.”

Baffert said in hindsight, missing the race run in the slop might have been a blessing for Govenor Charlie.

“The way the track came up, the way the pace was, I was glad he wasn’t in there with them,” Baffert said. “The speed horses got sucked into this jet stream. At the half-mile pole, those trainers must have been going, ‘I’ve been preparing the last few months for this?’ Any front-runner lost all chance whatsoever. We would have been in that group, or close to it.”

Titletown Five will be one of three starters trainer D. Wayne Lukas will send out in the Preakness, a race he has won five times. His others, Oxbow and Will Take Charge, exit the Kentucky Derby, having finished a respective sixth and eighth. Titletown Five started his season later than his stablemates, and enters the Preakness off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Derby Trial at Churchill on April 27.

“He got into a speed duel, the fractions were totally unrealistic,” Lukas said. “He was very fresh and was into it. I’ve been working since on relaxing, taking off his fast ball, making him so he isn’t quite so one-dimensional.

“He’s a very talented horse. We’ve got [Julien] Leparoux, who I think will get along very good with him. He’s an excellent rider for this style of horse. We’re excited about taking him over there.”

Titletown Five is by Tiznow and from the mare D’ Wildcat Speed, a Grade 2 winner of $530,755. He was a memorable maiden special weight winner at Churchill last October, when he won a seven-furlong sprint by nine lengths with a Beyer Speed Figure of 98. Following the start, Titletown Five was found to have a bone chip in his left knee that was removed. Titletown Five returned to action in March, and was second in the $60,000 Gazebo at Oaklawn. He proceeded to run ninth in the Louisiana Derby, after which Lukas decided to target the Derby Trial and his favorite leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness.

“In this one, beware of the sleeping dog,” said Lukas.

Cover2 More than 1 year ago
Should get in the exotics, can't win or place, Depart'g/ Orb together from 1/8 pole home all by selves, box, others in tri/sup/hi5 all boxes.......It will be fitting and fate for claiborne
Douglas More than 1 year ago
Mary : great article . What about OXBOW : for real . . . rumors have it around the stables that OXBOW just maybe sitting on a HUGE bounce race performance - that its starting to look like the Derby took its toll on this colt . OXBOW more than likely will not be going onto Belmont . ITSMYLUCKYDAY seems to be off abit as well . This colt just may take a rest anyways after the Preakness . These two colts "In My Opinion" should not even be running Saturday : These two colts though Will sure get alot of Play on the TOTE board . I WOULD NOT EVEN CONSIDER EITHER in the Top 3 positions : 4th in Super at Best : and that would be asking alot . These two colts N E E D A R E S T
Richard Gorz More than 1 year ago
Orb should be worn out after the derby win,considering track condition, and if post draw doesnt mean anything than why the look on shugs face when he drew number one, charlie ran fast on a day when alot of horses ran fast, thats what he was supposed to do and thats what he did i suspect him to do it saturday, i think orb is a fine horse who bounces like a rubber ball in the preakness. Luck to all.
t9ater99 More than 1 year ago
Good question. Fast works don't always translate into improvement. Either he bounces, as you say, or his energy level has got that much bigger and stronger and he can overcome all obstacles and win. Given the likely odds, I have to go for the former.
Dan Jacobs More than 1 year ago
GC all the way...let the fools be orb. We will party afterward
Dan Jacobs More than 1 year ago
michael stapler More than 1 year ago
PREAKNESS ANALYSIS: Fast track/no further scratches. After looking at the abundance of speed scenarios in this race, I think the pace should be in the 1:11 2/5 range for 6f with a couple of lead changes along the way to this pace scenario. It mIght go faster, but not betting that the pace can go slower than this. Having said that: this race sets up for ALL CLOSERS. This is a rare thing. Usually a speedster stays around to hang on. DEPARTING is in over his head and can't come close to handling this pace. TOSS (even as a closer) GOLDENCENTS looks like he doesn't want to mix it up with more than 1 horse, but may just go to the front to solve that problem. (More on him later) TITLETOWN FIVE doesn't belong in this race. A total farce. TOSS GOVERNOR CHARLIE has never run fast enough to beat these but is improving, albeit on a BLAZING Sunland strip. TOSS ITSMYLUCKYDAY gets the worst of the pace scenario from the outside with 4-5 horses looking for position. Also, IMLD comes home rather slow in the last 1/8 and should get swallowed up by the head of the stretch. Only chance it to go winging and hope for the best (More on IMLD later) This leaves us with ORB-MYLUTE-OXBOW-WILLTAKECHARGE. ORB & OXBOW have the best positional speed and should be used on top in tri's and supers. MYLUTE & WILL TAKE CHARGE will be flying later than ORB & OXBOW and complete a 4 horse tri box. If you need to add a 5th horse for a superfecta box, it should come from GOLDENCENTS or ITSMYLUCKYDAY, either of which gets first run to the leaders. I would learn towards GOLDENCENTS. I will be boxing both the tri and supers and coming back heavily with ORB or OXBOW on top as well as ORB/OXBOW combo in the 1-2 positions for the "kill shot" -Good Luck 1-1 15-1 5-1 12-1.........
Perl More than 1 year ago
if Departing is a closer, why should he have to "handle" the pace? The faster the better. Horse is sitting on a forward move. Leave him out of your exotics and you will lose.
michael stapler More than 1 year ago
He has never ran a race fast enough to win here in this spot. Over-rated, in my opinion, just as Titletown was when everyone hyped him.
Perl More than 1 year ago
the thing I don't like is his workout pattern. Otherwise I'd pound him.
Joseph Murratti More than 1 year ago
I can't see any other horse coming into this race as fit & RELAXED as Orb. If the front-end speed doesn't get away, Orb's late kick will put'em all away. Orb on top of IMLD, Oxbow, & Goldencents. These 3 come latelies mean nothing but experience.
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
Orb-Gov Charlie-Lucky Day-WTC
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
Departing not in top 4. I have him 6th.
Dan Jacobs More than 1 year ago
dont overlook goldencents. I am not sure about WTC. I think Lukas is running titletown5 to help him, but he is a wildcard
Dan Jacobs More than 1 year ago
orb, GC over orb GC over all
Dan Jacobs More than 1 year ago
Please don't bet on GC, I want him to go off at 16-1. Orb, bet on Orb I tell you
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
No way he can rate and win. If he floats up that should tell you not to play him. He cant repel the bid of 4 or 5 of the pressers and still hold of Orb. Race dont shape up for him.
Dan Jacobs More than 1 year ago
Keep thinking that.... GC ran the fastest 1 1/8 in this field. Half brother to Mylute and his granddam is silverbulletday. He IS the class in this field. When I cash on Saturay you wil recall my posts. Orb will have his hands full
Douglas More than 1 year ago
Its a no - brainer to lean towards the Derby winner ORB in the Preakness : I totally agree with that notion : But then again : I honestly believe that MYLUTE looks just as "Promising" to run no worse than 2nd ! In Fact : im like 99.9% sure about ORB / MYLUTE . . . . . with that being said : Looks very simple to fill in the gaps for completing the Trifecta / Superfecta ! I AM BEING STRAIGHT UP WITH "MYLUTE" ............. Do Not Leave This Colt off your Ticket !
Douglas More than 1 year ago
( 5 ) MYLUTE with the connections of T.Amoss / R. Napravnik will give ORB all he can handle in the stretch ! Make No Mistake about it ! For all the "Ladies" that love to watch them rise to the top : climb aboard with Rosie Napravnik / MYLUTE ! This colt will run huge : WIN / PLACE ! ( 5 - 1 - ALL ) ( 1 - 5 - ALL ) . . . . As far as a Power Play ( 5 MYLUTE ) should be on EVERYONES TICKET "SOME-WHERE" .................. If Not - A Huge Mistake
Frank Kulcsar More than 1 year ago
changed my mind on exacta(fast track) dropping Goldencents--going with Baffert & Orb