Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Departing breezed a half-mile in :48 Sunday at Churchill Downs ahead of the Sept. 27 Homecoming Classic.

The 4-year-old gelding by War Front recorded the fastest time of 64 workers at the distance for trainer Al Stall Jr.

“Everything went well this morning,” Stall said. “He’s a great work horse; he always has been. That’s just what he does when he’s right and we were all happy with it.”

Departing started his 2014 campaign by taking an allowance optional claiming race at Churchill Downs on April 30, and followed that with a third place effort in the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (Grade I) on June 14. In his only other start on the year, he finished eighth in the Aug. 2 Whitney Handicap (GI) at Saratoga, leaving his conditioner a bit puzzled.

“He threw a clunker in his last race; for whatever reason, we don’t know,” Stall said. “He’s been physically and mentally fine since.”

Stall said the Homecoming Classic was the only upcoming stakes he had Departing nominated for and that they were excited to have him back running another race at his home track.

“We expect him to bounce back nicely in the Homecoming Classic, where he can run right out of his stall, so we’re looking forward to it,” Stall said.

The $125,000-added Homecoming Classic, run at the distance of 1 1/8 miles, drew 24 nominations as one of two stakes on Saturday, Sept. 27 at Churchill Downs, along with the $100,000-added Jefferson Cup (GIII), which attracted 25 nominees.

PATIENCE PAYS OFF FOR MOQUETT’S MAIDEN SUCCESSES

Owner Harry T. Rosenblum campaigned two impressive Churchill Downs maiden winners in 3-year-old colt Tale of Honor on Friday and 2-year-old colt Far Right on Saturday, both of whom are trained by Ron Moquett, who indicated that patience had paid off for his owner.

“It’s one of those things where he’s had some nice horses in the barn and I had to keep telling him, ‘We can’t run just yet,’” Moquett said. “But I also told him, ‘I promise you it will all pay off,’ and it did. It was good that it happened back-to-back like it did, too.”

Far Right captured Saturday’s competitive 6 ½-furlong maiden contest as the 9-1 fourth choice in a field of seven juveniles. He began the race stalking the leader Risk Parity in second through the opening quarter and half-mile, then commanded the lead in the stretch and drew away five-lengths clear at the wire.

“Anytime you can run that well with that caliber of well-bred 2-year-olds, you’re proud of it,” Moquett said. “I was really proud, especially by the way in which he did it. I knew he had the ability.”

Far Right, a 2-year-old son of Notional, had made two starts prior to his maiden triumph, where he finished second in each. In his debut start at Keeneland he finished second to Conquest Tsunami, who has since won a pair of stakes events at Woodbine and in his second start was runner-up to Cinco Charlie, who went on to win the Bashford Manor (GIII) at Churchill.

“I thought the betting public may have let him sneak off,” Moquett said. “He had only been beaten twice, both times where he finished second to horses that went on to win stakes in Cinco Charlie and Conquest Tsunami. But at the same time, that was the kind of race where everybody had a shot. I was really pleased with him. You might line them up the same next week and something different could have happened, so I’m glad we got the win.”

Moquett was optimistic about the future of Far Right, although no official plans have been set just yet.

“We’re going to let him tell us how far he can go,” Moquett said. “If I had to guess, I’d say a mile, a mile-and-a-sixteenth or maybe even further. At this stage of the game, allowances don’t go very well. We’ll just have to wait and see how it goes.”

When asked if the Oct. 4 Breeders’ Futurity (Grade I) at Keeneland was out of the question for Far Right, Moquett said: “Nothing is out of the question at this point. We’re open to entertaining all options.”

As for 3-year-old Tale of Honor, who won his six-furlong maiden contest by 1 ¾ lengths, Moquett said allowance company likely would be the next step.

“We’ll point to an allowance race with Tale of Honor, maybe at Keeneland or we might wait until the November meet here at Churchill,” Moquett said. “We always liked this horse quite a bit but we had a few setbacks with him. Luckily, the owner was cool enough to let me have the time to do right by the horse, and the horse returned the favor.”

ODDS AND ENDS

Ricardo Santana Jr. rode three winners from eight mounts Saturday, placing him in a two-way tie with Corey Lanerie at the top the jockey standings after five days with seven wins, two more than Brian Hernandez Jr., who moved to sole possession of second place after also recording three wins Saturday, totaling five for the meet… Steve Asmussen captured his second consecutive edition of the featured Open Mind with Aireofdistinction, moving him into a three-way tie with Wayne Catalano and Wesley Ward for leading trainer. Ward won the fourth race on Saturday’s card with Pearl of a Girl… Owner Maggi Moss captured her third victory of the meet with Free World in Saturday’s 10th and final race. She joined Gary and Mary West in a tie for the meet’s leading owners… Randy Morse saddled his 99th Churchill Downs winner in Saturday’s sixth race with Double Ours, putting him just one win away from the 100-win milestone. … Sunday is the 64th birthday for retired jockey Charlie Woods Jr., who won 757 races at Churchill Downs to rank seventh all-time.

NEXT WEEK AT CHURCHILL DOWNS

Friday, Sept. 19 –Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Old Forester: Oktoberfest

  • 10 races from 6-10:42 p.m. (Gates: 4 p.m.)
  • Theme: Oktoberfest. Churchill Downs will transform its 30,000-square-foot Plaza into Louisville’s largest beer garden.
  • In addition to a live polka band and a roaming accordion player, the Plaza Stage features live performances by The Rheingold Band and the popular cover band, The Respectables.
  • A variety of German beers and traditional German foods such as sausages, sauerkraut and pretzels will be available for sale.
  • Feature (Race 8 at 9:39 p.m.): $43,000 alw opt clm, 3 & up, 1 M.
  • Box Office hours: 12-9 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 20

  • 10 races from 12:45-5:27 p.m. (Gates: 11:30 a.m.)
  • Feature: $100,000-added Dogwood (GIII), 3yo, f, 7 F.
  • Who’s the Champ? Betting Challenge in the ITW area on the second floor of the Grandstand. $35 to enter ($30 for TSC Elite members). Registration from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Churchill Downs Lounge. $2 Win/Place mythical wagers on Races 3-8. First prize: 1,000,000 TSC Elite Points ($1,000) plus $500 entry fee for Churchill Challenge. Second prize: 500,000 TSC Elite Points ($500). Third prize: 250,000 TSC Elite Points ($250).
  • Box Office hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 21

  • 10 races from 12:45-5:27 p.m. (Gates: 11:30 a.m.)
  • Feature: TBD
  • Box Office hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

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