Departing, trained by Al Stall, Jr. and to be ridden in the Preakness by Brian Hernandez, Jr., continued his Preakness preparations Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.
He galloped two miles over a fast track well before the renovation break under Trina Pasckvale. Departing is scheduled to work Sunday morning at the Louisville track after the renovation break.
Seven weeks after a victory in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic on Fort Larned on his birthday, Hernandez was on a roll at Fair Grounds, with four victories from eight mounts on the card. Departing was about to debut.
“I had just won on Bind, and Al was bragging on this first-time starter in the next race,” Hernandez said. “That was Departing. I had never been on him, and he ran huge. He was my fifth winner on the card and the most impressive.”
Hernandez has been aboard Departing for all five of his starts, all wins except for a third in the Grade III Louisiana Derby.
“I was riding some good maidens at the time, Golden Soul for Dallas and Proud Strike for Steve Asmussen,” Hernandez said. “My agent, Frank Bernis, thought Departing was the best of them.”
Following the Louisiana Derby, the Kentucky Derby was ruled out, and Departing was pointed to the Grade III Illinois Derby, a race he won by 3 1/4 lengths from post 13.
“After the Louisiana Derby, they made the plan to go to the Illinois Derby and then the Preakness,” Hernandez said. “I can’t be disappointed in missing the Derby. We have a chance to upset Orb, and the Preakness is not a bad race to run in.
“After this meet was over, I used to ride at Delaware Park, and I have ridden some at Laurel, but never at Pimlico,” Hernandez said. “I am going to go over a day early and ride a horse for Al."
On Black-Eyed Susan day, Hernandez will warm up on Tread in the Miss Preakness Stakes.
Other Preakness News from Churchill Downs
After jogging Wednesday, fifth-place Kentucky Derby finisher Mylute galloped 1 1/2 mile before the renovation break under exercise rider Maurice Sanchez for trainer Tom Amoss.
Amoss said a decision on the fifth-place Kentucky Derby finisher’s status for the Preakness would be made after training Saturday. If Mylute is a go for Baltimore, he would represent a second Preakness starter for Amoss, who saddled Hot Wells for a fourth-place finish behind Real Quiet in 1998.
Oxbow and Will Take Charge, the sixth- and eighth-place Derby finishers respectively for D. Wayne Lukas, galloped 1 1/2 mile shortly after the track opened for training at 6 o’clock. Rudy Quevedo was on Oxbow and Taylor Carty on Will Take Charge. Both colts jogged Wednesday.
Titletown Five jogged for Lukas under Quevedo.
Grade III Sunland Derby winner Govenor Charlie jogged under Jorge Alvarez for trainer Bob Baffert. That came two days after he breezed six furlongs at Churchill Downs in 1:11.40 (1/3).
War Academy, whose next destination is unknown until Bob Baffert gets to town this weekend, worked a bullet five furlongs in :59.60 (1/15) over a fast track after the renovation break under Jorge Alvarez.
Edited Churchill Downs notes with additional content by Dick Downey