09/27/2013 3:07PM

Remington Park: Departing streaking into Oklahoma Derby

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Lou Hodges Jr.
Departing, winner of the Grade 2 Super Derby, is the likely favorite in Sunday's Grade 3, $400,000 Oklahoma Derby.

Departing’s connections did not get caught up in Derby fever this spring and instead have employed a conservative campaign. The payoff has been a strong second half for Departing, who comes into Sunday’s Grade 3, $400,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park in search of his fifth stakes win of the year.

Departing, whose $1.3 million in earnings is greater than the combined bankrolls of his seven rivals, is the marquee horse on a special afternoon program of six stakes worth a total of $975,000. The most important card of the meet includes the $200,000 Remington Park Oaks.

Departing is seeking his third consecutive win, following victories in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer on Aug. 3 and the Grade 2 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 7. He won those races by a combined 12 lengths, and for his Super Derby earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 104. He has done well since, said Al Stall Jr., who trains homebred Departing for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider.

“He’s turning into a very consistent horse,” Stall said. “He appears to be in the same form that he was going into the West Virginia Derby, into Louisiana, and now, this race. He’s very consistent on a daily basis.”

In April, Departing was a sweeping winner of the Grade 3 Illinois Derby, one start after he finished third in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. Despite the efforts, he was never considered for the Kentucky Derby.

“He didn’t make his first start until Dec. 22, and it’s hard to make the Derby doing that,” Stall said.

Departing advanced to the Preakness, and after a sixth-place finish he was targeted for the West Virginia Derby. The timing of that race put him on a path to races like the Super Derby, Stall said, noting it would have been too quick for the horse to come back to run in the August 24 Travers after having raced in the West Virginia Derby.

“Once you commit to that direction, it doesn’t make sense to deviate from it,” Stall said.

In the aftermath of the Super Derby, Stall said plans were for Departing to close out his year in the Oklahoma Derby. He is a gelding, he noted, and a developing horse who has the potential to get better as a four-year-old.

“He’s been a Grade 3, Grade 2 horse this year,” Stall said Friday, “and the hope is for him to mature and step it up a notch, to hopefully be a Grade 1 horse next year.”

Robby Albarado has the mount on Departing and will break from post 8.

Cameo Appearance also exits the Super Derby, a race in which he finished third.

“Not bad for the first time going long on the dirt,” said trainer Wayne Catalano, who has given the mount to Luis Quinonez.

Holiday Mischief was seventh in the Super Derby, one start after winning its prep, the $100,000 Prelude Stakes.

“We had a little shoe problem,” said trainer Joe Offolter, noting the horse lost a front shoe in the Super Derby.

Broadway Empire is cutting back from a win at 1 3/8 miles in the Grade 3 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park.

“I think shortening up is a plus for him,” trainer Robertino Diodoro said.

Broadway Empire defeated Grade 3 Ohio Derby winner Title Contender in the Canadian Derby, and following the race, Title Contender came back to win the Grade 3 British Columbia Derby.

Braveman is moving back to dirt, the surface on which he was second in the Ohio Derby, following a fifth-place finish in a turf allowance race at Ellis Park.

“In the race at Ellis, he got in trouble in the first turn, then got bounced around in the second turn,” trainer Roger Anderson said. “I’m just kind of throwing that race out.”

Texas Bling, who defeated Will Take Charge in last year’s $300,000 Springboard Mile at Remington, was freshened after his seventh-place finish in the Arkansas Derby.

“I’ve seen him mature into physically a more robust horse,” trainer Danele Durham said.

Carve, third in the Arkansas Derby, will add blinkers Sunday.

“I’m very pleased with how he’s trained at Remington and expect him to run one of his better races,” trainer Steve Asmussen said.