Saturday's Derby Prep Recaps

Hurley has another winning Derby Prep Full Card Saturday at Keeneland. 4 top wins in 10 races (9 wins total) and 4 exactas, 1 triple and a daily double.

Saturday's Derby Prep Recaps

Winning Cause remains perfect at Keeneland in Lexington

Alto Racing's Winning Cause surged to the lead in the stretch and posted a one-length win in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 Lexington, improving his record to three for three on Keeneland's Polytrack. Julien Leparoux rode the Todd Pletcher-trained colt.

A son of Giant's Causeway, Winning Cause earned 20 points toward the Kentucky Derby for winning the "wildcard" race in the new scoring system, but Pletcher was non-committal afterward toward pursuing the Run for the Roses. The middle leg of the Triple Crown, the May 18 Preakness, may be a more likely target for the chestnut after his first stakes triumph.

"I guess you can never have too many, but we never really talked about that with this colt," said Pletcher when asked about the Kentucky Derby. The conditioner already has five horses confirmed for the race in Verrazano, Revolutionary, Overanalyze, Palace Malice and Charming Kitten.

"We'll see how he comes out of it and see (what his next race will be). We're just happy to have this one."

River Rocks and Cerro showed speed at the start, with the former completing the opening fractions in :23 3/5, :47 3/5 and 1:12 2/5 on a short lead. Winning Cause stalked the pace in fifth down the backstretch, about five lengths back, and commenced his rally while four wide on the far turn.

Cerro took over turning for home, passing the mile mark in 1:37 3/5 with a half-length advantage, but Winning Cause was gaining fast on the far outside. The winner drove past and was always going best in the final sixteenth of a mile, scoring comfortably in his graded stakes debut.

Winning Cause completed the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:43 4/5.

The battle was for second as 34-1 longshot General Election, who closed from last during the early stages, edged third-placer Pick of the Litter by a neck. It was another neck back to Cerro in fourth and next under the wire came 5-2 favorite Sunbean, Wings of Fortune, the filly Pure Fun, River Rocks, Examen and Hip Four Sixtynine. Where's Dominic was scratched.

"I couldn't ask for a better trip," said Leparoux, who also won the Blue Grass a week earlier aboard Java's War. "In the first turn, he put me in a good spot and I got room to get him out there (toward the middle of the track) and he just cruised around there and finished strong."

Off as the 6-1 fifth choice, Winning Cause paid $15.60, $8.20 and $6 to his supporters.

Winning Cause entered the Lexington off an entry-level allowance victory going seven furlongs at Keeneland on April 6 and broke his maiden over the track last November. He made two starts on Aqueduct's inner track this winter, finishing second in the Jimmy Winkfield prior to a fifth in the February 10 Java Gold.
"The main reason (he was entered in the race) is he's two for two at Keeneland going into this," said Pletcher, who notched his fifth Lexington win. "We know he likes the surface and thought it was worth taking a shot."

With Saturday's $120,000 payday, Winning Cause has now earned $206,140 from his 7-3-1-0 ledger.

Bred in Kentucky by Galleria Bloodstock, Winning Cause is out of the winning Kingmambo mare Raffishing Look, a half-sister to Grade 3 winner and Grade 1 runner-up Society Hostess. He counts multiple Grade 2 winner Grenzen as his third maternal dam and this is the female family of Grade 1 winner and 1991 Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up Twilight Agenda; 1990 Belmont Stakes hero Go and Go; and Irish highweight and sire Refuse to Bend.

Winning Cause initially sold for $115,000 as a 2011 Keeneland September yearling before being purchased for $200,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Maryland May two-year-old sale the following year.

Departing impressively wins Illinois Derby

Departing won't attempt to secure a second Kentucky Derby trophy for Claiborne Farm in two weeks, but might try to earn a first Woodlawn Vase for the famed Paris, Kentucky, nursery following an authoritative win in Saturday's Grade 3, $750,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne.

Conspicuously absent from the new "Road to the Kentucky Derby" points system instituted this year, the 1 1/8-mile Illinois Derby was re-positioned on the calendar due to its exclusion as a Derby qualifier and now conveniently sits four weeks out from the May 18 Preakness at Pimlico. Departing, a gelded son of War Front, could be a major factor at Old Hilltop based on what he showed Chicagoland spectators.

Breaking from post 13 as the 9-5 favorite, Departing was kept outside and in the clear by jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. entering the first turn, and then shifted out to race six wide all the way down the backstretch. Meanwhile, second choice Ground Transport set an opening quarter of :23 before yielding the lead to Taken by the Storm, who held a half-length advantage through a half-mile in :47 3/5 and six furlongs in 1:13.

Around the far turn, Taken by the Storm came under pressure as 23-1 chance Fordubai and third choice Abraham began to make their bids. Also closing while racing very wide was Departing, who was four deep entering the stretch and swiftly made the lead approaching the eighth pole. Two lengths up with a furlong to go, Departing extended his margin to 3 1/4 lengths at the line and completed nine furlongs on a fast track in 1:50 3/5.

Departing, who races in the famous Claiborne orange silks but is co-owned by co-breeder Adele Dilschneider, paid $5.80, $3.60 and $3. Al Stall Jr. trains the winner.

Fordubai, who was making his stakes debut for Kentucky Derby-winning owner Jim Tafel, bore out badly in the final furlong but was cleared of any wrongdoing following a stewards' inquiry. He held second by a neck over deep closer Siete de Oros, with Abraham another length back in fourth. The order of finish was rounded out by Street Spice, For Greater Glory, Narvaez, Dewey Square, Ground Transport, Bells Big Bernie, Show Some Magic, Stormin Monarchos, Taken by the Storm and Dakota Mac.

The Kentucky-bred Departing broke his maiden at first asking December 22, scoring by 2 1/4 lengths over six furlongs at Fair Grounds. He was even more impressive taking a February 1 allowance over the same track, crossing the wire 4 1/2 lengths clear at the end of one mile and 70 yards.

A 2 3/4-length victor in his stakes debut, the $50,000 Texas Heritage at Sam Houston at one mile on March 2, Departing was a solid third in his most recent outing, the 1 1/8-mile Louisiana Derby back at Fair Grounds March 30. His record now stands at 5-4-0-1, $628,000.

Departing was produced by the Pulpit mare Leave, a full sister to stakes winner Laity and a half-sister to multiple Grade 3 winner Trip and stakes winner Joke. All were produced by the stakes-winning Tour, whose descendants also include multiple Grade 1 winner Zensational and stakes winner Passport.



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