Three years after winning the West Virginia Derby, Departing returned to Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort as a favorite for the $ 200,000 West Virginia Governor’s Stakes in 2016, which at the time had not achieved tiered status.
Bred and owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider and trained by Tom Drury, Departing was sent to a field of nine as a favorite. The then six-year-old Departing took over the lead for the journey home and opened up a two-length lead. But he was overtaken by Hawaakom in the last sixteenth of a mile and had to be content with the second.
“When he went home it looked like he was free,” said Drury, who lived and still lives in Kentucky. “He started opening up and then he was caught. It was a very good performance, but I have to say it was the longest drive home in the history of horse racing. “
The Kentucky-bred Departing retired after this race with nine wins in 27 starts and a profit of nearly $ 2 million. This year, the same compounds will take another chance at the 1 1/16 mile gubernatorial stake, which has since achieved Grade 3 status.
Four-year-old colt Sprawl, also bred and owned by Claiborne and Dilschneider, is one of seven colts participating in the West Virginia Derby program on August 7th. City Zip’s son has performed well at a high level after finishing third in the Stephen Foster Stage 2 Stakes on June 26 at Churchill Downs, but is aiming for his first stakes score.
Sprawl finished third, just a head behind the winning Mighty Heart, who was also registered in the Governor’s Stakes, in the Blame Stakes at Churchill and fourth, only three-quarters of a length behind, in the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes in Keeneland. Between these two races the colt won an admission test in Churchill with 7¼ lengths.
Sprawl trained forward at the Churchill Training Center in preparation for the Mountaineer race.
“Every time you come to the older horse races, you’ve lost your job,” said Drury. “Our horse is good. His races at Churchill and Keeneland have been good, and I don’t know if he was the luckiest horse in any of his races. His Stephen Foster race was huge for him, and we’re looking for a little class relief. “
Along with Sprawl and Mighty Heart, a Grade 3 winner in Canada, the Governor’s Stakes also attracted Bourbon Calling, Grade 3 placed in 2020; Colonelsdarktemper, winner of the 2017 West Virginia Derby, who is three to three against eligible and entry fee opponents this year; and Exulting, who was called for $ 7,500 in March and finished second in the Schaefer Memorial Stakes in Indiana for the last time.
Drury, who also stationed horses at the Skylight Training Center outside of Louisville, Kentucky, said the governor’s cup had an impact beyond the race itself. Claiborne Farm has a long, successful history of breeding thoroughbreds, and Drury pointed out that the farm still has Sprawl’s mother.
“It’s a grade 3, it’s a black guy, so it’s very important for us not just to attract him, but also for the family,” said Drury on the breeding issues. “He did very well on the track (Churchill Training Center) before this race and I think he can take this track with him.”
The first post time for the West Virginia Derby program is 2:00 PM
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