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That is where the Orb and Departing connection developed. Orb and Departing were foaled at Claiborne, a leading breeder for over 100 years that has been the birthplace of 10 Derby winners.
The two youngsters grew up in the same barn, and galloped through the same pastures. If history is a guide, Orb will eventually return to Claiborne as a stallion when his racing career concludes.
Departing, gelded when he failed to focus on his early training, will not join his childhood friend in that assignment.
Departing is latest in a long line of stakes winners for Claiborne, best known recently for Blame, the horse who pinned the first — and only — career defeat on champion mare Zenyatta in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Following a third place finish in the Louisiana Derby, the ownership team of Claiborne and Adele Dilschneider, along with trainer Al Stall, Jr., removed Departing from Kentucky Derby consideration.
"After that race we said, well, the Derby’s just too tough and he’s a gelding and we’re looking for quite a bit of longevity out of him," Stall said. "We didn’t even really consider it, to be quite honest with you."
Departing instead headed to Hawthorne Racecourse, rallying from ninth in the Illinois Derby to win by 3¼ lengths.
The Preakness became the next logical stop.
"After he ran such a good race, then we started considering the Preakness," Stall said. "So we just fell into that."
And into a showdown between the former playmates.
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