Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing
justified his even-money favorite’s role in Friday’s Starlight Racing feature attraction at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots by drawing off for a 4 1/2-length score in the final furlong of the $47,000 mile and 70-yard test for 3-year-olds.
Trained by Al Stall Jr. and ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., the highly regarded Departing pressed the early pace, took command just before the eighth pole and then quickly drew off. The homebred son of War Front out of a Pulpit mare who had broken his maiden at first asking Dec. 22 with a 2 1/2-length tally increased his career earnings to $51,600 with his second victory in as many starts, accomplished the distance in 1:44.34 and returned mutuels of $4, $2.60 and $2.20.
“I don’t think you could ask any more for a horse in his second start, stretching out two turns, so we’re very happy with everything,” Stall said of the gelding, who is an Early-Bird nomination to the $1 million Louisiana Derby to be run March 30.
Diamond Racing and Volunteer Racing’s Johnny Handsome, allowed to settle early, closed in the stretch run to be clearly second best in Friday’s race while finishing 2 1/2-lengths in front of the pace-setting Parrain, owned by Gerald Romero and Sue Cook, who had set early splits of 24.90 and 49.76 before weakening in the final furlong.
Johnny Handsome paid $4.20 and $3.40 while Parrain returned $7.60 to show.