Updated on 04/07/2012 11:01AM

Aqueduct: Caleb's Posse gets extra furlong in deep Carter Handicap

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Tom Keyser
Calibrachoa (right) holds off Caleb's Posse to win the Grade 3 Tom Fool at Aqueduct.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – With all due respect to the $1 million Wood Memorial, the best race on Saturday’s 11-race program at Aqueduct is the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap for older sprinters.

Grade 1 winners Caleb’s Posse, Jackson Bend, and Shackleford converge in this seven-furlong sprint that drew a field of six and will be run one race after the Wood. Multiple stakes winner Calibrachoa was scratched fromthe Carter Saturday morning with a quarter crack.

The Carter is so strong that Shackleford, last year’s Preakness winner, is the longest shot on Eric Donovan’s morning-line at 8-1.

The Carter was the first major goal of the year targeted by trainer Donnie Von Hemel, who shipped Caleb’s Posse to New York last month for the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap, where he fell a neck short to Calibrachoa.

“You always want to win, but I was very happy with the way he ran last time and would expect a similar scenario this time,” Von Hemel said. “Maybe we get a little more chance to get there.”

Caleb’s Posse is 2 for 2 at seven furlongs, including a victory over Uncle Mo in last year’s Grade 1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga.

Rajiv Maragh had to make a choice between riding Caleb’s Posse here or Currency Swap in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne.

“He’s probably one of the best horses I’ve ever ridden,” Maragh said of Caleb’s Posse. “His turn of foot is great, quick acceleration.”

Jackson Bend, trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito, is 3 for 3 at seven furlongs, including a victory in the Grade 1 Forego last summer at Saratoga. He has made two starts this year, winning the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope and finishing third to Mucho Macho Man in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap after stumbling at the start.

“He tries to beat the gate,” Zito said. “If he’d just relax, he’d come out of there better.”

When it was suggested the Carter is coming up like a Breeders’ Cup race, Zito said, “he’s acting like a Breeders’ Cup horse should. He’s acting feisty. He tried to kick his groom. I guess that’s a good sign.”

Emcee has only run three times, but he has two wins and was a good third in the Tom Fool after chasing the hot pace established by Royal Currier. Without that horse in the race, Emcee could be the primary speed in the Carter under John Velazquez.

“The best thing for this horse is that that horse isn’t in there,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said that after the Tom Fool, Velazquez told him Emcee would be better at seven furlongs.

“I said yeah, ‘what about Caleb’s Posse, he’ll be better going seven, too,' ” McLaughlin said. “It’s a very good race. We’re not ducking from anybody.”

Emcee is coupled with Tahitian Warrior, who comes off a pace-pressing second in an allowance race at Gulfstream on Feb. 10.

Carter H. (G1), Post Time: 5:55 ET Saturday

Purse: $400,000; 7 furlongs

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

ML Odds

1

Emcee

K. McLaughlin

J. Velazquez

7-2

1

Tahitian Warrior

T. Albertrani

J. Castellano

7-2

1

Jackson Bend

N. Zito

C. Nakatani

3-1

1

Caleb's Posse

D. Von Hemel

R. Maragh

8-5

1

Calibrachoa

T. Pletcher

C. Velasquez

4-1

1

Shackleford

D. Romans

J. Castanon

8-1