08/05/2013 4:41PM

Saratoga notes: Travers not an option for Departing

Coady Photography
Departing scored a 102 Beyer Speed Figure for his 8 3/4-length win in Saturday's Grade 2 West Virginia Derby.

This content is part of a free preview of DRF Plus. Click to learn more.

Four years ago, trainer Al Stall Jr.  sent out Blame to win the Curlin Stakes with a career-best performance, after which he skipped the temptation to run his rising star in the Travers.

Last Saturday, Stall sent out his latest 3-year-old sensation, Departing, to an explosive 8 3/4-length triumph in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby. But once again, Stall will opt to take the more conservative route, having definitely ruled out the Grade 1 Travers for Departing’s next start.

“We put the West Virginia Derby on the calendar a while back,” Stall said. “That was the plan, and everything worked out well for the horse. He worked well here and was ready to roll, the field was right, the trip was right – everything just went our way.”

Departing, a gelded son of War Front, earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure for his victory at Mountaineer Park. Coincidentally, that was the same number posted by Blame when he won the Curlin here four summers earlier. The West Virginia Derby was the first start for Departing since his sixth-place finish in the Preakness.

DRF Plus Preview

“Without question, this was his best race yet,” said Stall, who trains Departing for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider. “He’s back here now and looked great [Monday] morning. Obviously, I want to run in the Travers one day, but it just hasn’t come together yet. Not with Blame, and not this year. There are several factors involved with the decision to pass the race, not the least of which are the competition and the timing.”

Stall said there are four other stakes for 3-year-olds on the horizon – the Super Derby, Pennsylvania Derby, Indiana Derby, and Remington Derby, all of which are options for Departing’s next start.

Bahamian Squall strong in defeat

Trainer David Fawkes was pleased with Bahamian Squall’s effort under Luis Saez on Sunday in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt, even though he came out second-best behind Justin Phillip.

“I thought Luis rode the horse perfect,” Fawkes said. “He got pinned in down near the inside; he couldn’t get outside until late. The horse ran a huge, huge race. Maybe the outcome would have been different if we’d had an outside post. I’m disappointed we didn’t win but really happy with my horse’s performance.”

Fawkes said Bahamian Squall likely would have one more start prior to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, a race he’s already qualified for by virtue of his victory in Calder’s Smile Sprint Handicap.

“I’ll bring him back home to Florida and then decide what to do next,” Fawkes said. “I only want to run him one more time before the Breeders’ Cup, but whether that race is at Belmont, in Maryland, or even back here, I’m just not quite sure yet.”

Fawkes would love to see history repeat itself this year. His Big Drama won the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Sprint after finishing second in the Vanderbilt behind Majesticperfection, who, like Justin Phillip, was trained by Steve Asmussen.