Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing, ridden by Robby Albarado, came from just off the pace to win Saturday's 34th running of the Grade 2 $500,000 Super Derby at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs in impressive fashion.
Trained by Al Stall Jr., Departing was sent off as a prohibitive 3-10 favorite in the seven-horse field. Bashaar, trained by Dan Peitz, was the distant 6-1 second choice in the 1 1/8-mile race.
Breaking from the far outside post, Departing was content to sit well of the rail, and three lengths off the early pace being set by 16-1 shot, Ruler of Love. Cameo Appearance was running second through early fractions of 23.76 and 49.29. As the field approached the far turn, Departing looked ready to strike from his third place position.
With a, “There goes Departing!” from track announcer, Travis Stone, the heavy favorite made a quick move on the turn and joined Ruler of Love as the pair moved towards the stretch run of the Super Derby.
Ruler of Love proved a game challenger early in the lane, but Departing started to edge clear outside the eighth pole. The 3-year-old gelding powered home from there, on his way to an emphatic 4-length victory over the early pacesetter.
“They went a little slow the first half, but sprinted home nice,” said Albarado. “He was well within himself.”
Cameo Appearance held a clear advantage for third, while never threatening the top pair. Gary and Mary West claimed both third and fourth place money when Treasury Bill claimed the final spot on the superfecta. Bashaar disappointed after laying closer to the pace than usual and finished sixth.
The time for the Super Derby over today’s fast racing strip was 1:50.08, which represented the fastest running of the prestigious stakes race since Regal Ransom knocked off Blame four years ago.
Stall became the first trainer to collect three wins in the Super Derby with today’s score, breaking a four-way tie with D.Wayne Lukas, Jack Van Berg, and Wally Dollase. Stall previously won with My Pal Charlie in 2008 and Apart in 2010.
“This one was marked on the calendar,” said Stall. “That’s great. I cut my teeth here. I think they [the Super Derby] supported me, more than I’ve supported it. The Super Derby is a great race to win.”
The impressive winner of both the Illinois Derby in April, and the West Virginia Derby in August, Departing picked up his third Derby victory of the season, while raising his lifetime record to six wins in eight lifetime starts.
Departing might not be stopping at only three Derby victories, though, as Stall said that Departing could start next either in the Indiana, or Oklahoma Derbies.
"The Breeders’ Cup Classic could be on the table," added Stall. "But, we’ll take it one race at a time.”
Departing was making his second successful start since finishing sixth to Oxbow in the Preakness. After winning his only start as a 2-year-old, he began 2013 with an allowance win at Fair Grounds and a minor stakes victory at Sam Houston Park. He was third in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds before winning the Illinois Derby.
Departing paid $2.60, $2.10 and $2.10. Ruler of Love returned $5.80 and $4.00, and Cameo Appearance paid $3.60 to show.
The Super Derby was the highlight of a stakes-packed thirteen race card on Saturday. The signature day of racing at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs also included five other stakes races that totaled more than $950,000 in total purses.