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Oct 24, 2014

Fayette Stakes marks Keeneland debut for Departing


Lexington, KY ( - Saturday's $200,000 Fayette Stakes will mark the Keeneland debut for multiple stakes winning 4-year-old Departing. Trained by Al Stall Jr., Departing is the 5-2 morning line favorite versus seven for the 1 1/8-mile stakes.

Departing will again have Robby Albarado in the saddle and the pair will leave from post 2. The gelding is coming off a second-place finish as the 13-10 favorite in last month's Homecoming Classic at Churchill Downs.

"We had no excuses," Stall said after the Churchill race. "We had enough of the racetrack in front of us from the quarter pole home. Cigar Street had a very moderate pace and ran like a good horse, and he might be a good horse. But he tried. We're not thrilled that he didn't win, but we're happy that we're back in the game a little bit."

The runner-up result was an improvement over his distant eighth-place finish behind Moreno in Saratoga's Whitney on August 2.

"I'm just glad he came back to run a little better coming off his last race. He bounced back well," Albarado noted about the Homecoming Classic run.

As a 3-year-old, Departing won the Illinois, West Virginia and Super Derbies, and this year got third in the Stephen Foster Handicap. Owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, Departing has earned better than $1.5 million with seven wins in 13 starts.

Set to start next to the favorite in post 3 will be 3-1 co-second choice Stephanoatsee with jockey Julien Leparoux. The 5-year-old is owned by My Meadowview Farm and trained by Nick Zito.

"He's a gorgeous-looking horse," said the Hall of Fame trainer, who got the 5- year-old in his barn this summer. "He's a tryer and it would be nice to win a stake with him.

"This will be (Stephanoatsee's) last start of the year. It was either this or the Clark (Handicap, at Churchill Downs on Nov. 28). I thought this might be a good spot for him."

Four weeks ago Stephanoatsee crossed the wire in fifth behind Tonalist in Belmont Park's Jockey Club Gold Cup, duplicating of his fifth-place finish to Itsmyluckyday in Saratoga's Woodward.

"He got a 103 (speed figure) in the Woodward," Zito said. "He had a lot of trouble in the Gold Cup and was moved up to fourth."

Winless this year and last, Stephanoatsee has won three of 19 career starts for $354,600.

Also at 3-1 in the program is Long River, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin for Godolphin Racing. The 4-year-old chestnut colt will break from post 7 with Rosie Napravnik in the saddle.

Long River was third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, his best finish this year since getting second back in March at Aqueduct in the Excelsior. His only win of 2014 came in January's Evening Attire Stakes at Aqueduct.

The 4-year-old has earned $428,347 from four wins in 15 lifetime starts.

Here is the field for the Fayette from the rail out: Pick of the Litter, Corey Lanerie, 6-1; Departing, Robby Albarado, 5-2; Stephanoatsee, Julien Leparoux, 3-1; Coltimus Prime, James Graham, 12-1; Call Me George, Stewart Elliott, 12-1; Mister Marti Gras, Florent Geroux, 10-1; Long River, Rosie Napravnik, 3-1 and Code West, Shaun Bridgmohan, 10-1.

The Fayette will have an approximate 5:13 p.m. ET post time.

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