Caleb's Posse Dominates Amsterdam
Trainer Donnie Von Hemel's decision to keep his three-year-old CALEB'S POSSE (Posse) around one turn for the remainder of the season after the colt displayed inconsistent form in routes produced immediate dividends in Monday's $150,000 Amsterdam S. (G2) at Saratoga, when the bay rallied down the middle of the track to win by four lengths as the 12-1 longest shot in the field. Under Rajiv Maragh, Caleb's Posse completed 6 1/2 furlongs over the fast main track in 1:15 4/5 and paid $27.60, $11 and $5.10.
The Amsterdam, a prep for the August 27 King's Bishop S. (G1) at seven furlongs, marked the return of To Honor and Serve (Bernardini), an early-season classic prospect injured prior to the Kentucky Derby (G1). That one surprisingly dueled for the lead with Arch Traveler (Sky Mesa), with the latter a head in front in :22 2/5 and :45. Caleb's Posse, meanwhile, trailed the field of seven after a quarter-mile, but had advanced to fifth approaching the stretch in the compact field.
The dueling leaders were joined by Justin Phillip (First Samurai) at the top of the stretch, and that one forged to a short lead passing the eighth pole as Arch Traveler attempted to hang tough while To Honor and Serve had already made a swift retreat. However, Wine Police (Speightstown) began to make a sustained rally outside Justin Phillip with Caleb's Posse making an even stronger move outside that one. Neither Wine Police nor the inside-rallying Redeemed (Include) could keep pace with Caleb's Posse, who stormed clear to a decisive victory.
"If you looked at his races last year, he's a capable sprinter that we were stretching out because of the opportunities the three-year-olds have through the spring," Von Hemel said. "It turned out that maybe we should have been sprinting before now.
"I think we had exhausted what we could do going long and we were going to end up fourth or fifth in some of those graded races the rest of the year. It was an experiment that had a good chance, considering his pedigree, to succeed."
Redeemed, at 8-1, beat 4-1 chance Wine Police for second by a neck. It was a length farther back to Justin Phillip, with Arch Traveler, To Honor and Serve and Travelin Man (Trippi) completing the order of finish.
Bred by owner Don McNeill in Kentucky, Caleb's Posse began his career on Polytrack at Arlington Park. After breaking his maiden in his second start, the bay finished third by a length in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3). He next took a six-furlong allowance at Keeneland by a neck, then ventured to Oklahoma where he contested both the Clever Trevor S. and Springboard Mile on dirt.
In the seven-furlong Clever Trevor, which honors McNeill's homebred star from the late 1980s, Caleb's Posse dominated his nine rivals in winning by 5 1/2 lengths. However, he inexplicably flopped as the odds-on choice in the Springboard Mile, finishing seventh by more than 11 lengths.
Caleb's Posse wintered at Oaklawn, where he took the Smarty Jones S. by nearly three lengths, finished sixth after a rough trip in the Southwest S. (G3), finished a distant second in the Rebel S. (G2), and crossed the wire a poor 12th after a slow start in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Rebounding to take the Ohio Derby (G3) in his next start, Caleb's Posse entered the Amsterdam off a sub-par fourth in the Iowa Derby (G3). His record now stands at 13-6-2-1, $408,304.
"(The King's Bishop) is a conversation we'll have to have with the ownership," Von Hemel said. "It looks like it will be a little tough for him in that group also, but with the way he performed today maybe he can handle that, too."
Caleb's Posse is the second winner and first stakes winner produced by Abbey's Missy (Slewacide). This is the family of Grade 2 winner Seven Rivers (Irish River [Fr]) and four-time Grade 3 winner Mr Ross (Slewacide).
On the New York worktab
Over Saratoga's fast main track on Monday, Grade 2 hero APART (Flatter) breezed a half-mile in :49 4/5 in preparation for Saturday's Whitney H. (G1). The Al Stall Jr. trainee is coming off a third in the Stephen Foster H. (G1).
Grade 1 veteran NOBLE'S PROMISE (Cuvee), most recently third in the Smile Sprint H. (G2), drilled five furlongs in a bullet :59 4/5 for Sunday's Alfred G. Vanderbilt H. (G1). The Ken McPeek charge turned in the fastest of 20 works at the distance.
Grade 2 winner ATTA BOY ROY (Tribunal), also tuning up for the Vanderbilt, sped four panels in :47 2/5. Runner-up to Noble's Promise in the Aristides S. (G3) two back, the Washington-bred was a well-beaten third in the Iowa Sprint H. last time out.
Carter H. (G1) runner-up APRIORITY (Grand Slam) confirmed his Vanderbilt bid by traveling in :48 4/5.
"He breezed well, he came back well, he cooled out well," trainer David Fawkes said of the four-year-old, who just missed in a photo in the Churchill Downs S. (G2). "Everything looks good. We're on 'go'."
Multiple Grade 1 star VINEYARD HAVEN (Lido Palace [Chi]) recorded his first official move of the year, touring three furlongs in :38. The Godolphin colorbearer has not raced since his seventh in the Cigar Mile (G1) over Thanksgiving weekend.
Grade 1 victor J P'S GUSTO (Successful Appeal) took a half-mile spin in :50 in advance of the August 27 King's Bishop S. (G1). After his distance limitations were exposed in Oaklawn's three-year-old series this winter, he shortened up to seven furlongs and romped by 6 3/4 lengths in the Red Legend S. at Charles Town.
Last year's Breeders' Futurity (G1) winner J. B.'S THUNDER (Thunder Gulch), sidelined since finishing ninth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), exercised five panels from the gate in 1:00 4/5.
Grade 3 hero EIGHTYFIVEINAFIFTY (Forest Camp), out of action for the past 14 months with a series of ailments, blitzed in 1:00.
Dwyer S. (G2) third-placer COOL BLUE RED HOT (Harlan's Holiday) reeled off four furlongs in :48.
Tropical Park Derby scorer and Blue Grass S. (G1) third KING CONGIE (Badge of Silver), exiting a sixth in the Virginia Derby (G2), clocked :50.
Grade 2 vixen TAR HEEL MOM (Flatter), runner-up in the Sweet and Sassy S. and My Juliet S. in her last two, zipped in :47 1/5. Sunday's Honorable Miss H. (G2) is a likely objective.
Multiple Grade 3-placed YIELD BOGEY (Langfuhr), second in both the Jaipur S. (G3) and Poker S. (G3) lately, finished up in :50.
On the fast Oklahoma training track, classic winner DROSSELMEYER (Distorted Humor) negotiated five-eighths in 1:02 2/5. The Bill Mott pupil, who was runner-up in the Brooklyn H. (G2) last time, will switch to turf for the August 13 Sword Dancer Invitational (G1).
REGALLY READY (More Than Ready), triumphant in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3), San Simeon H. (G3) and Joe Hernandez S. in his past three, loped three panels in :39 4/5.
Distaff H. (G2) runner-up WILD NEWS (Forest Wildcat), an 8 1/2-length optional claiming winner last out, went five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 in her tune-up for the Honorable Miss.
On the firm Oklahoma training turf course, Virginia Derby victor AIR SUPPORT (Smart Strike) blitzed a half-mile in :48 1/5. The Shug McGaughey trainee is a logical candidate for the August 13 Secretariat S. (G1).
Eight Belles S. (G3) queen VICTORIA'S WILDCAT (Bellamy Road), a distant third in the Sometime Thing S. in her latest, skimmed the weeds in :51 1/5.
Marine S. winner QUEEN'SPLATEKITTEN (Kitten's Joy), who couldn't live up to his name when fifth in the Queen's Plate, ripped five grassy panels in 1:00 3/5.
Grade 3 scorer AFLEET AGAIN (Afleet Alex), third in the Greenwood Cup, blew out three-eighths on the lawn in :37 2/5 for Friday's John's Call S. He's also entered in Thursday's Birdstone S.
Grade 2 veteran DREAM PLAY (Hennessy), last seen trailing in the 2009 Acorn S. (G1), strode four furlongs in :49 4/5 on the green.
Da Hoss S. victor FOLLOWMYFOOTSTEPS (Giant's Causeway), exiting a fourth in the Sussex S., was also caught in :49 4/5.
At Belmont Park, multiple Grade 3-winning sprinter CALIBRACHOA (Southern Image) covered a half-mile on the fast main track in :48 4/5 for the Vanderbilt. The Todd Pletcher runner will get a rematch with Trappe Shot (Tapit), who left him 8 3/4 lengths back in third in the True North H. (G2).
Debut maiden romper BORN BULLISH (Flashy Bull), a nominee to the August 14 Adirondack S. (G2), worked in :49.
Multiple Grade 3-placed CHIPSHOT (Peace Rules), a distant third to Flashpoint (Pomeroy) in the Jersey Shore S. (G3), turned in the exact same time.
Multiple Grade 1-placed stakes veteran DRIVEN BY SUCCESS (Precise End), unraced since his fifth in the General George H. (G2), posted :49 2/5.
SHARED HEART (Forestry), last seen crushing her debut by 11 lengths at Gulfstream Park in January, breezed in :48 4/5.
Classy Mirage S. diva SAVVY SUPREME (Distorted Humor), a full sister to two-time Whitney star Commentator, rattled off five panels in a bullet 1:00
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