Hawthorne Racecourse (4/19/13)
Contact: Ron Uchman
DEPARTING AT APPROX. 5:15
Arrival? Guessing at about 1:50 and change...on a fast track.
Departing, owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider and trained by Albert Stall Jr. will seek his first graded stakes victory in Saturday’s 56th running of the Grade III $750,000 Illinois Derby. This centerpiece of the Hawthorne Race Course’s spring meet is likely to attract a full field of three-year-old runners from around the country.
Departing is likely to be one of the favorites in this mile and one eighth contest. He’s fresh off a solid third-place finish in the Grade II Louisiana Derby, only three lengths behind the highly regarded Revolutionary, at the Fair Grounds in Louisiana. He’ll be making his local debut in this race.
His trainer, however, is no stranger to the Chicagoland circuit. Al Stall Jr. sent the talented Cease here in the last two editions of the Grade II Hawthorne Gold Cup. He finished third here in 2011 while coming in second in 2012, losing both races by only a half length each time. Also, last year he sent Lea here to compete in the Grade III Hawthorne Derby.
Plus, Stall’s first winner, Scottish Fantasy, came at Arlington Park.
The 51-year-old Stall has been training for about 21 years, based mostly out of New Orleans and Churchill Downs. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in geology from Louisiana State University.
To date, the best horse he has trained was probably Blame who, you might remember, beat Zenyatta in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
When asked why he opted for the Illinois Derby instead of the Kentucky Derby for Departing (he had 20 points which, while not enough to guarantee a berth in the Run for the Roses, might have been enough to qualify) Stall didn’t hesitate a bit.
“Departing came from the farm with a nice reputation. We took our time with him and did everything right. He’s a gelding. We didn’t want to tear him up for a race like the Kentucky Derby. We really don’t know what we have yet. We’re not sure just how good he might be. I figure that we’ll probably be somewhere around 7-2 in the Illinois Derby and we would probably be something like 70-1 in Kentucky. It’s a question of math. This looks like the perfect race for us.”
Departing was scheduled to arrive at Hawthorne on Friday morning.
“We really have no plans for him beyond this race. He’s nominated for everything but we’ll have to see what happens on Saturday and figure it out from there.”
ABOUT HAWTHORNE RACE COURSE
Hawthorne Race Course has been Chicago's "hometown track" for 122 years and currently offers the only traditional dirt racing for Thoroughbreds in northern Illinois. Hawthorne's spring meet opens February 15 and runs through April. Live racing is hosted Friday through Sunday in February and Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in March and April. Daily post time is 1:35 pm, and admission costs $4. The historic track is located a half-mile north of I-55 on Cicero Avenue, and 2 miles south of I-290 on Laramie Avenue at 35th Street. For more information visit www.hawthorneracecourse.com or call Guest Services at 708-780-3733. Fans are welcome at Facebook.com/ClubHawthorne and for up-to-the-minute racing tips become a follower at Twitter.com/ClubHawthorne.