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Al Stall Says Relax, Don’t Do It

 

If you’ve been waiting for the promising young horse, Departing, to make it back to the races, your wait is just about over.

 

When Al Stall watched Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s homebred, Blame hold off the mighty, and previously undefeated, Zenyatta in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, it was the culmination of a long and patient road for the champion older male. The son of Arch was never rushed. Racing only twice as a juvenile, Blame did not make his stakes debut until August of his three-year-old season. By the end of that season he was defeating a full field of top older horses in the Clark Handicap. Even at four, Stall gave Blame time. He did not race until May, and by the time America’s richest race rolled around, he had not squeezed the lemon dry and had a horse ready to fire a huge shot. Three years later, Stall has another talented homebred for Claiborne and Dilschneider, and once again, he is in no hurry to push the talented gelding into too much, too soon.

 

A dominant winner of the Illinois Derby back in April, Departing could have been thrust into the Kentucky Derby a few weeks later, but it wasn’t going to happen with these connections. Rather, he was held out of the Louisville melee to be ready for his first big swing for the fences in the Preakness. Despite making a menacing move on the turn, Departing faded down the lane to lose a three-way photo for fourth to Orb and Goldencents. Running in racing’s middle jewel in only his sixth lifetime start may seem like asking a lot, but it made sense considering his impressive progression this spring. It also demonstrated how much Stall thought about his new stable star. Since then, the New Orleans native has taken a much more Blame like approach with Departing.

 

Freshened after the Preakness, Stall has given Departing a half-dozen foundation building workouts at Churchill Downs and Saratoga, and now feels that the son of War Front is fit, happy, and ready to return to the races. The occasion will be tomorrow’s $750,000 West Virginia Derby. Installed as the 5-2 co-second choice in the Grade 2 affair at Mountaineer Park, Departing will face eight other three-year-old males going nine furlongs. Among the ones to beat tomorrow include the Arkansas Derby winner, and 7-5 morning line favorite, Overanalyze, who represents the red-hot Todd Pletcher barn, and Betweenhereandcool, a narrow loser of the Iowa Derby in his most recent start. 

 

While that pair is no easy pickings, if the horse I saw look so impressive in the Illinois Derby is indeed fresh and ready to flourish, they might all be running for second money. To be ridden for the first time by Robby Albarado, while regular rider, Brian Hernandez Jr., has pressing Fort Larned business in the Whitney, I consider Departing to be strictly the one to beat in the West Virginia Derby. 

 

It would be a win that many might expect to set him up for the Travers. No, Al Stall will be taking a much more deliberate path back to the bigtime with Departing. After all, it worked out pretty well for Blame. 

 

 

What the Nation is saying about Al Stall Says Relax, Don’t Do It...

You were exactly right, all the others were running for second money.
No, there will be no Travers for Departing.
Could it be that the Travers will not be a battle of the winners of the Triple Crown races? Oxbow is out. I'm not sure about Orb going in on just workouts. But Palace Malice, Verrazano, and Departing would be pretty darn good.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.  



Kentucky Derby 2014