STICKNEY/CICERO -- On a nippy sun-splashed day where favorites seemed to proceed in a mostly orderly fashion across the wire, it seemed as though the morning line favorite, DEPARTING, would cross the finish line first. The public bet it that way, making DEPARTING a 2-1 favorite for most of the wagering before closing as the 19-10 favorite when the latch sprang on the feature race. Post thirteen? Feh.
So when the gate opened, GROUND TRANSPORT, TAKEN BY THE STORM, and DAKOTA MAC went out to the front end. DEWEY SQUARE was not far from an early pace that was clocked in :23.10 and :47.71. At the three quarter mile mark, DEPARTING was rallying in earnest when the timer read 1:13.03. He had been six-wide on the first turn, then four wide on the second turn. While the front end pacemakers were folding, DEPARTING was rallying. And when he hit the stretch call, any trailing margin was erased and he was in front, widening out to a 3 1/4 length victory. The sophomore son of War Front stopped the timer for the mile and an eighth in 1:50.78 on a fast track.
Locally based FORDUBAI was second, and rallied from fifth early. He did engage in contact during the race with fourth-place finisher ABRAHAM, and an inquiry took place into the stretch run. However, no call was made and no positions changed. Third place went to SIETE DE OROS.
DEPARTING is victorious in the Illinois Derby. Photo from Four Footed Fotos.
“I let him tell me where he wanted to be. He broke cleanly and we got a good spot. We were able to save a little ground going around the first turn. When we got straightened out on the backside, I just let him out and let him cruise to the half mile pole. When we got to the half mile pole, I thought I was on the winner. He showed it today. He got over the track well. At first the dirt was hitting him in the face but he got used to it pretty quickly and leveled off. It seemed that the farther he got, the stronger he got. -- Winning rider Brian Hernandez, Jr.
Winning trainer Al Stall, Jr. kept plans open-ended for his sophomore. While the second and third legs of the triple crown were open as options, he also indicated second-level sophomore races like the Northern Dancer at Churchill Downs and the West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer were also possible.
The $2 13-10 exacta of DEPARTING and FORDUBAI paid $94.00 The fifty cent 13-10-12 trifecta of DEPARTING, FORDUBAI, and SIETE DE OROS returned $168.30. Dime 13-10-12-8 superfectas with ABRAHAM in the fourth position gave $236.10 to their backers.
For a recap of the G3 Sixty Sails also on Hawthorne's Illinois Derby Day program, click here.