After finishing sixth in the Preakness Stakes in May, Departing took charge in Saturday’s West Virginia Derby, winning the $750,000 race by 81/4 lengths.
Jockey Robby Albarado guided Departing as the horse surged past Overanalyze and front-running Ruler of Love on the far turn. Departing recorded the largest margin of victory since Stellar Brush in 1999 won by nine lengths.
Nine horses competed in the 44th running of the Grade 2 race.
Departing, the favorite at the start of the race, returned $4.80 after finishing in 1:51.47. Ruler of Love was second and Overanalyze third.
Trainer Al Stall Jr. set his sights on the West Virginia Derby shortly after the gelding finished 10 lengths behind Oxbow in the Preakness.
“You’ve got to love when a plan comes together like this one,” Stall said. “It doesn’t always happen like this, so it’s nice.”
Departing was seventh in the early going, and Albarado got him into a smooth rhythm while keeping him free of traffic.
“I just let him gather himself, and he did the rest,” Albarado said. “He was really impressive.”