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updated: 4/20/2013 7:45 PM

Departing wins Illinois Derby

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Associated Press

Race favorite Departing came on strong at the head of the stretch to win the Grade III $750,000 Illinois Derby by 3 lengths Saturday at Hawthorne Race Course.

Ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., Departing ran 1 1/8 miles race in 1:50.78 on the fast track.

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Fordubai edged Siete de Oros by a neck for second place, and Abraham finished fourth.

"Once he got down the backside, I thought I was on the best horse," Hernandez said. "He was just kind of cruising and going really easy today. He looks like he's getting better with distance."

Departing, the Son of War Front, won his first three races before a wide run in the Louisiana Derby on March 30 relegated the 3-year-old to a third-place finish.

Trained by Albert M. Stall, Jr., and owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider, Departing looms as a possible entrant for the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown.

"There's no use talking about the Preakness until we see what happens in the Kentucky Derby," Stall said. "There are some good horses there. If they do their thing and scare everybody off, we might do something differently."

Fordubai went off at 23-1 odds and stayed near the front throughout the entire race.

"He was looking a little at the signs and he went a little crooked," jockey Diego Sanchez said. "He is still a little green."

The 56th running of the Illinois Derby featured a capacity 14-horse field. Departing paid $5.80, $3.60 and $3, Fordubai returned $16.60 and $9.40, and Siete de Oros paid $5.80 to show.

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