Departing returned to winning form when taking the Michael G. Schaefer Memorial at Indiana Grand
Back in 2013, Departing registered one of the most dominating performances in the history of the Grade 2, $ 750,000 West Virginia Derby. His 8 ¾-length margin of victory remains the largest in the race since it attained graded status 14 years ago. Departing was the 7-5 post-time favorite in the field of nine, and the final time for his 1 1/8-mile tour was 1:51.47.
Next Saturday, Departing may try for an encore at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort. The now six-year-old gelding has been nominated to the $ 200,000 West Virginia Governor’s Stakes, a 1 1 /16-mile event that is annually run on the main track on the West Virginia Derby undercard. He has also been “cross-nominated” to the $ 100,000 West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup, to be run at one mile and 70 yards on Mountaineer’s turf course.
“Departing’s trainer, Thomas Drury, Jr., has told us that if he runs anywhere, it’s going to be here,” said Mark Patterson, the stakes coordinator and assistant racing secretary at Mountaineer. “There’s a precedent for this. Zanjero won the West Virginia Derby in 2007, and then he came back to win the Governor’s Stakes the following year.”
Geldings, of course, have no ability to breed, and the good ones tend to stay in training for multiple years, as long as they remain sound and competitive. The Hall of Famer Forego won multiple times in Grade 1 company at age seven. His fellow Hall of Famer John Henry did the same at age nine.
This past July 16, Departing was a two-length winner of the $ 102,800 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial Stakes at Indiana Grand Race Course. His career resume includes 26 starts, from which Departing has gained nine wins and nine placings, and purse earnings totaling $ 1,928,229.
A victory in the Governor’s Stakes would elevate Departing’s earnings beyond the $ 2 million plateau. To date, the only West Virginia Derby winner to reach that height is Prayer for Relief, who was victorious in Mountaineer’s 2011 edition of the race, has accumulated $ 2,017,000 in purses, and currently competes in Dubai.
Departing’s achievements include a quartet of graded victories. Prior to his West Virginia Derby effort, he won the Grade 3 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne. And Immediately following his Mountaineer triumph, he won the Grade 2 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.
At age five, Departing was victorious at Churchill Downs in the Grade 2 Firecracker Stakes, which is a grass event. He has further placed four times in graded company, thrice on the dirt and once on the turf. Departing has proven not only to be exceptionally good, but versatile as well.
Bred in Kentucky by Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider, for whose partnership he continues to campaign, Departing was trained until recently by Albert M. Stall, Jr. This is the same team that sent out Blame to defeat Zenyatta in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill – it was Zenyatta’s only loss in 20 career starts.
Drury’s first effort with Departing resulted in the Schaefer Memorial score. The Schaefer is what’s known in Thoroughbred racing as a “listed stakes,’ which means it is eligible to become graded, depending upon the quality of competition it lures. The same is true for Mountaineer’s Governor’s Stakes.
ther than Departing, Drury’s most prominent horse has been Timeless Fashion, a six-time black-type winner. Timeless Fashion won back editions of the Independence Day Stakes at Mountaineer in 2009-2010. Drury, who has been training since 1991, has achieved 341 career wins overall (through July 28 of this year). With Claiborne/Dilschneider now as clients, he’s hit something akin to a jackpot.
Robbie Albarado was aboard Departing when he won the West Virginia Derby. Brian Hernandez, Jr. rode him in the Schaefer. One or the other will likely have the mount if Departing tries for an encore at Mountaineer next Saturday.
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