With trainer Al Stall Jr. and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. watching from the grandstand, Illinois Derby (Grade III) winner Departing worked a half-mile in :50.40 over a fast track at Churchill Downs on Sunday morning.
With former jockey Larry Melancon up, Departing worked on his own after the morning renovation break and produced fractions of :13.20, :25.40, :38.20 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:03.80.
“I wanted him to go a little slower the first part than the second part and he hit right on what we were looking for,” Stall said. “He did enough to get the day off tomorrow. He is a gelding and doesn’t carry a lot of weight. He had galloped two miles on Thursday and a spirited mile and a half Friday.”
Owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Departing is scheduled to walk Monday and then train Tuesday and Wednesday morning before shipping to Baltimore on Wednesday afternoon. Stall said he has a 2 p.m. flight Wednesday and would be in Baltimore in time for the Preakness draw that afternoon.
Departing will be the second Preakness starter for Stall, whose Terrain finished seventh in 2009 behind eventual Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. Like Terrain, Departing did not run in the Kentucky Derby prior to the Preakness.
Waiting at Pimlico when Departing arrives will be Kentucky Derby winner Orb, who shared a paddock at Claiborne Farm in his early days with Departing. Orb is owned by Stuart Janney III and the Phipps Stable.
“Those families have been down the road before,” Stall said of the Hancocks of Claiborne Farm and the Phippses. “Seeking the Gold and Forty Niner ran against each other in big races like the Derby, Haskell and Travers (in 1988) and I am sure they are all going to try to run their ‘A’ race.”
As many as eight horses that ran in the Derby remain under consideration for the Preakness, headed by Orb.
“Orb will be even money or less,” Stall said of the Derby victor who earned the roses over a sloppy sealed track. “There have been horses that have rebounded from Derbies like Louis Quatorze (16th in the 1996 Derby) that won or ran well in the Preakness.
“Goldencents trained well here and then ran a 32 Beyer (Speed Figure) in the Derby. Horses can come back to themselves and run 70 to 80 points higher.”
Stall is eager to get to Baltimore.
“It is exciting and there is maybe more buildup to this than with Blame in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI),” Stall said. “My wife is from Baltimore and we are looking forward to a good time there and enjoying the race.”
Other horses at Churchill Downs under consideration for the Preakness had routine mornings.
Oxbow and Will Take Charge, the sixth- and eighth-place finishers, respectively, in the Kentucky Derby jogged two miles before the renovation break and Titletown Five, fourth in the Derby Trial (GIII) in his most recent start, galloped 1 ½ miles before the break. Rudy Quevedo was on Oxbow and Titletown Five and Taylor Carty was on Will Take Charge.
“Oxbow and Will Take Charge will work in the morning and Titletown Five will breeze through the stretch,” trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.
GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm’s Mylute galloped 1 ½ miles before the renovation break under exercise rider Maurice Sanchez. The fifth-place Kentucky Derby finisher is scheduled to work Monday morning at 6 o’clock with jockey Rosie Napravnik up.
“It will be an easy half, nothing fancy,” trainer Tom Amoss said.
Mike Pegram’s Govenor Charlie had an easy two-mile gallop under exercise rider Jorge Alvarez after the break. The Bob Baffert trainee, who schooled in the paddock prior to Sunday’s first race, is scheduled to work Monday.
GOOD DEED EXITS UNBRIDLED SIDNEY VICTORY IN GOOD ORDER – Trainer Steve Margolis reported that Unbridled Sidney winner Good Deed exited her authoritative 4 ¼-length victory on Saturday in good order.
“She came out of the race good,” Margolis said of the 4-year-old filly who is owned by breeders Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein. “I think we will keep her going five or five and a half (furlongs) on the turf or Polytrack. Horses in that family ran their best at that distance.”
Margolis was not surprised by the result of Good Deed’s first race on grass.
“She had worked two halves on the turf with (jockey) Shaun (Bridgmohan) and ran her last quarter in 22s around the dogs,” Margolis said. “I have had three stakes winners from that family and I was very optimistic she would handle it too. She has a lot of natural speed.”
Through the first nine days of the 38-day spring meet that concludes June 30, Margolis has sent out five winners, good for a tie for third in the race for leading trainer. In his career, Margolis has had 129 winners at Churchill Downs but Good Deed was his initial stakes winner.
COURT SHOWS NO SIGNS OF SLOWING DOWN – To jockey Jon Court, age is just a number that has no bearing on one’s well being.
“Yes, I am 52, but there’s a stigma attached to riding at that age, but I feel good,” said Court, who has no plans for a career change in the immediate future. “I feel just as good now or better than I did when I was in my 30s. My mom is very active and dad was until he died suddenly, so I’ve got good genes and I am pain free.”
A winner of more than 3,700 races and purses exceeding $90 million, the enthusiasm for the job Court displays is readily apparent.
“Friday I won an $8,000 claimer for my father-in-law (Jinks Fires) and I was just as happy as if we had won a stake,” Court said. “Plus, it got us both off the duck.”
Court has been a regular member of the Churchill Downs riders’ colony since moving his tack back to Kentucky from Southern California 2009. With 425 victories beneath the Twin Spires, Court ranks 17th all time.
Court has ridden in the Kentucky Derby twice, both with disappointing results. In 2011 he rode Archarcharch for Fires, but the colt was injured in the Derby in finishing 15th and never raced again. This year he finished eighth on Will Take Charge.
“I was moving with (Derby winner) Orb and full of run when Verrazano ducked out right in front of me (at the head of the stretch),” Court said. “My horse lost all of his momentum.”
DOWN THE STRETCH – Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan’s five-win day Saturday increased his career total at Churchill Downs to 451, leaving him one win away from tying Mike McDowell for 12th all time. Bridgmohan captured races six through 10, culminating with the victory in the Unbridled Sidney aboard Good Deed ($7.40). Bridgmohan’s other winners were Gamay Noir ($33) in the sixth, Au Moon ($8.20) in the seventh, Flashy Sunrise ($5.80) in the eighth and Coin Flip ($9.60) in the ninth. Flashy Sunrise’s win gave trainer Dallas Stewart his 199th victory at Churchill Downs. Twenty-five trainers have hit the 200-victory plateau here.
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