03/17/2012 11:34AM

Oaklawn Park: Caleb's Posse on his toes in half-mile drill

Barbara D. Livingston
Caleb's Posse will return to Aqueduct for the Grade 1 Carter on April 7.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Caleb’s Posse began his preparations for next month’s Grade 1 Carter Handicap on Saturday morning, when he breezed a smart half-mile in 47.20 seconds at his Oaklawn Park base. The move was the second fastest of 45 at the distance, and his first since finishing second in his comeback earlier this month at Aqueduct in the Grade 3 Tom Fool.

Caleb’s Posse was beaten a neck by Calibrachoa in the Tom Fool. The $400,000 Carter will be run April 7 at Aqueduct.

The workout Saturday came shortly after the track opened at 7 a.m. Central on a clear, somewhat humid morning of 64 degrees. Caleb’s Posse warmed up by backtracking to the quarter pole. Jockey Luis Quinonez was aboard the horse, with trainer Donnie Von Hemel accompanying them on a pony. Caleb’s Posse went into his work at the half-mile pole, pleased to stretch his legs while getting his opening eighth of a mile in 12.20 seconds. He proceeded to cover his opening quarter in 24.40 seconds and his final quarter in 22.80, then galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.20, according to fractions provided by Oaklawn head clocker Jim Hamilton.

“It was an excellent work, and he looked very happy to do it,” said Von Hemel.

Caleb’s Posse’s remaining work schedule up to the Carter will be determined, said Von Hemel.

“We just have to see how things go, how he trains,” he said.

Caleb’s Posse was an Eclipse Award finalist in two categories last year, for 3-year-old and sprinter. He won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in his 3-year-old finale Nov. 5. His other career Grade 1 score came earlier in the King’s Bishop at Saratoga. Rajiv Maragh, who was aboard for both of those wins, has the mount in the Carter.

Caleb’s Posse races for the partnership of McNeill Stables and Cheyenne Stables. He is one of two top-class older horses Von Hemel has based at Oaklawn.

Alternation won his second straight handicap of the meet in the Grade 3, $125,000 Razorback on March 10. He led throughout in a departure from his off-the-pace style, and Von Hemel was pleased with the new show of versatility from the horse. For the effort, Alternation equaled his best career Beyer Figure, a 100. Von Hemel said the horse is now being pointed for the Grade 2, $350,000 Oaklawn Handicap on April 14. Alternation races for his breeder, Pin Oak Stable.