Caleb's Posse rebounded from a poor effort in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) last out to win the $100,000 Ohio Derby (gr. III) (VIDEO) June 4 at Thistledown.
It was the first graded stakes victory for the 3-year-old son of Posse, who was 12th in the April 16 Arkansas Derby when unable to overcome a bad start. Trainer Donnie Von Hemel sent out Caleb's Posse for his first graded stakes win. Eddie Razo Jr. guided the bay colt to the 1 3/4-length score, as they covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.12 over the fast dirt.
McNeill Stables and Cheyenne Stables own Caleb’s Posse, who was bred in Kentucky by Don C. McNeill.
Breaking from post 1 in a field of nine sophomores, Caleb’s Posse saved ground while racing at the back of the pack early on. Marco's Fling, a 40-1 longshot, set a quick pace under Filmer Munaylla, running the opening quarter mile in :22.86 and a half mile in :46.48. Irish Lion made a big middle move and was right outside the leader when they turned for home.
By that time, Razo had swung Caleb’s Posse off the rail and they were four-wide entering the lane while chasing down the two leaders. The colt grabbed the lead in at the top of the stretch and bounded home for the win as the slight 2-1 favorite.
Marco’s Fling hung on gamely for second, while Irish Lion was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third. El Grayling was fourth.
Caleb’s Posse won three of six starts as a juvenile, including the Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington Park. He won the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park to begin his 3-year-old season and ran a distant second to The Factor in the Rebel (gr. II) two starts later.
"The first part of the backside I was a little bit concerned about being inside there; a lot of horses in front and beside him-and I was thinking, 'How's he going to get out of this mess'? But on the turn they kind of started separating a little bit where you could see he could get up and out of there," stated Von Hemel, who said his charge would go on to the Iowa Derby (gr. III) next. "I was gaining confidence at the quarter-pole. He had clear sailing then and looked like he still had some run.
"He's had a few races where he didn't get a chance to perform but pretty much every other time he's come over and run a good race, and this looked like a spot where he would be very competitive. He got a good trip from Eddie. He got him moved out on the last turn there so he had a spot to go. It was a good job by Razo."
The Ohio Derby winner improved to 5-2-1 from 11 starts and upped his earnings to $305,804. He is out of the Slewacide mare Abbey’s Missy.
Caleb's Posse paid $6.20, $5.60, and $4.40. Th exacta (1-6) returned $201.60 and the trifecta (1-6-7) was worth a cool $2,812.60.
Le Mans finished fifth, followed by Goodtimehadbyall, Global Power, Picaroo, and Wilkinson. Richard Gianinni, assistant to trainer Neil Howard, reported after the race that Wilkinson had displaced his palate.