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Updated on 11/05/2011 4:38PM
Breeders' Cup: Caleb's Posse mows 'em down to win Dirt Mile
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Donnie Von Hemel has won almost 1,900 races in his 27-year training career, but none bigger than Saturday afternoon when Caleb's Posse stormed down the center of the Churchill Downs stretch to win the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile by four lengths.
Shackleford, the Preakness winner, finished second by 1 3/4 lengths over longshot Tres Borrachos. Trappe Shot finished fourth and was followed in the order of finish by Tapizar, Jersey Town, Wilburn, the 5-2 favorite, The Factor, and Irrefutable.
It was the first Breeders' Cup win for both Von Hemel and jockey Rajiv Maragh.
Though Caleb's Posse defeated Uncle Mo by a nose in the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga in August, Von Hemel called the Dirt Mile his biggest of 1,857 career victories.
"No doubt about it, a million-dollar race on Breeders' Cup day," said Von Hemel, who had only two previous Breeders' Cup starters, the last one being eight years ago. "He's such a neat little horse."
Von Hemel, 50, trains Caleb's Posse for owners Don McNeill and Everett Dobson. McNeill is suffering from leukemia and was unable to attend the races.
When Von Hemel brought Caleb's Posse to Saratoga, he felt if the horse was going to make an impact, it would be in one-turn races. He did just that winning the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes and the King's Bishop. Von Hemel targeted the Dirt Mile as far back as August but used the two-turn Indiana Derby as a prep. He finished third in that race behind Wilburn and Shackleford.
Von Hemel had the choice of running in the Sprint or the Mile, but chose the Mile because "we just felt we had a little more time to make our run."
Under Maragh, Caleb's Posse had just one horse beaten down the backside and to the quarter pole as The Factor set fractions of 22.49 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and a half in 45.36 while being pressed by Shackleford. Shackleford, under Jesus Castanon, took the lead turning for home.
Maragh guided Caleb's Posse into the five path in upper stretch, came with a furious late run and made the lead outside the sixteenth pole to win going away.
"I really didn't want to make the lead too early and make too much of a middle move," Maragh said. "He inherited the lead earlier than I expected. He accelerated really fast, and he just kept on going."
Caleb's Posse, a 3-year-old son of Posse, covered the mile in 1:34.59 and returned $15.60 to win. It was his third graded stakes around one turn, which is something Von Hemel believes voters should take into consideration when voting for champion sprinter.
"I look at this one-turn mile as a sprint," Von Hemel said. "He's got three great wins this year sprinting, in my opinion. I'm going to put him out there as a possibility."
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