Under a dense fog that covered Hot Springs and made it very difficult for race fans and announcer Terry Wallace to see much, Caleb's Posse stepped to a 2 ¾-length victory in the Jan. 17 $100,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park. The one-mile race is a prep for 3-year-olds hoping to make the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. I) on April 16 (VIDEO).
Caleb’s Posse sat in fifth position as four horses – Bluegrass Bull; Grant Jack; Archarcharch, the even money favorite; and Bonaroo – spanned across the track within a head of each other through the first turn.
Eusebio Razo Jr. moved the winner into the three path around the half-mile pole and when he asked for his move, he got the answer he was looking for. The son of Posse won easily in 1:43 for a mile over a good track. Dreaminofthewin finished second and Bluegrass Bull was third, followed by Archarcharch, Bonaroo, Make it Roses, and Grant Jack.
“My instructions were to just let him break and to not take him back,” said Razo. “He broke great. After that, I just took a nice long hold. Down the backside, he was just galloping. When I got to the three-eighths pole, I knew I had it won. He really kicked in hard through the stretch. A mile wasn’t a problem for him. It’s a good feeling to win a race like this and know he could have kept going.”
“From what I could see of it, I think we got a great trip,” added winning trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel, who conditions the colt for Don McNeill’s McNeill Stables. “They were coming through the stretch and said ‘I think that's him in front.’ ”
Caleb’s Posse improved his record to 4-3-1 in seven career starts and has now earned $182,440 for his connections. He returned $10.40, $5.80, and $4.40 as the 4-1 third choice in the field of seven. Von Hemel said that he and Alternation, a winner of an allowance race for 3-year-olds on Saturday would both be nominated to the Southwest Stakes (g. III), the next step on the Arkansas Derby trail on Feb. 21.