It was 5:30 Saturday morning, the sky still dark, when Departing walked on to the Pimlico track.
The Preakness was more than 12 hours away, and Departing began to jog a clockwise lap around the mile track – “the wrong way,’’ as racing people like to say.
Orb, who arrived about five minutes after Departing, galloped a mile counterclockwise. Goldencents galloped a mile, too.
The other six Preakness horse didn’t go to the track Saturday morning. The track was open for training from 5:30 to 6.
A group watching Departing from the apron included trainer Al Stall Jr., Dell Hancock of co-owner/breeder Claiborne Farm and co-owner/breeder Adele Dilschneider.
“How good must he feel right now?’’ Stall said of Departing. “An athlete at the peak of his fitness on a cool morning. How could he not be enjoying that?’’
Stall said that that perhaps a third of the horses in his stable go to the track the morning of a race.
“It just depends on the horse,’’ he said. “First-timers for sure, because I want to keep them in their routine. I just want them to have a comfortable day in the stall.’’
Trainer Shug McGaughey stood on the track as Orb exercised. Stall and McGaughey wished each other luck.
Orb’s routine was the same as it was on the morning of the Kentucky Derby.