Updated on 04/09/2012 9:30AM

Aqueduct: Jackson Bend noses out Caleb's Posse in Carter

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Tom Keyser
Jackson Bend (right) holds off Caleb's Posse to win the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap by a nose.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Nick Zito’s fortunes changed in a matter of 40 minutes.

One race after watching his 3-year-old Casual Trick fail to finish the Wood Memorial, Zito let out a huge exhale after his gritty 5-year-old Jackson Bend held off the hard-charging Caleb’s Posse to win Saturday’s Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap by a nose at Aqueduct.

It was 1 1/2 lengths back to Shackleford, who was followed by Emcee and Tahitian Warrior. Calibrachoa was scratched in the morning due to a quarter crack.

The victory was the ninth from 25 starts for Jackson Bend, a son of Hear No Evil who had finished second in the 2010 Wood Memorial and third in that year’s Preakness.

A diminutive horse with a big heart, Jackson Bend won his second Grade 1. Last year, he won the Forego at Saratoga. He is now 4 for 4 at seven furlongs.

He was ridden by Corey Nakatani, who won four races on Saturday’s card.

Zito looked to heavens in the winner’s circle and, as his custom, attempted to recite some scripture afterwards. But mostly, he was just relieved.

“That’s some thrill. It’s amazing this business,” ZIto said.

The Carter did not unfold as planned as the expected pacesetter Emcee blew the break and was last early while Shackleford, last year’s Preakness winner, assumed the lead.

Fourth early, Jackson Bend moved into second around the turn and was a half-length behind Shackleford at the three-furlong marker.

Jackson Bend made the lead at the five-sixteenths pole and Shackleford tried to stay with him. While Shackleford gave way stubbornly under Jesus Castanon, Caleb’s Posse came with his patented late run that fell just a nose short.

Jackson Bend, who like Casual Trick is owned by Robert LaPenta, covered the seven furlongs in 1:22.32 and returned $11.40 to win.

Aware of what a fighter Jackson Bend is, Nakatani said “When Caleb’s Posse came to [us] I thought I was still going to be able to hold him off.”

Added Zito: “I know how game he is [but] I was worried. I was looking at that wire; when that wire hit I said ‘Oh man.’ ”

Donnie Von Hemel, the trainer of Caleb’s Pose, said something similar in frustration for losing a second consecutive graded stakes in New York by a body part. Caleb’s Posse fell a neck short to Calibrachoa in the Grade 3 Tom Fool here on March 3.

 “It was going seven-eighths for twice the money so it’s going to sting a little more,” Von Hemel said. “That’s horse racing. The horse ran well and we’re giving weight to everybody too. If weight means anything it means a nose, doesn’t it?”

 It is likely that Jackson Bend and Caleb’s Posse will meet again in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont on May 28.